FAQs - Most Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does the personal injury claims process look like?
When you come to us we’ll decide together if you have a strong case. If you haven’t done so already, we’ll file the insurance claim for you. There’s no good reason for you to deal directly with insurance companies if you don’t have to.
After that, we’ll enter the process of discovery. This means we’ll investigate the case and try to reconstruct the accident. We’ll conduct examinations of discovery to get people on the record about what their version of the story is including witnesses and the negligent party. We may also contact expert witnesses to help determine the extent of your damages.
After that the case goes into negotiations. 92% of the time cases settle out-of-court once we can demonstrate that we can prove our ask is a fair and reasonable one. Sometimes the case goes on to trial. When that happens we fight for you in court so we can convince the jury to take your side and award you an appropriate amount.
2. How do I know if I have a case?
There are essentially three elements to any personal injury case.
The first is that you had to have been injured by someone else’s negligence. That person had to have done something they shouldn’t have done, or failed to do something they should have done. That person also has to have a “duty of care” to you, meaning they were responsible for doing what they could to prevent harm from occurring. Two drivers on the road always have a duty of care to each other.
Second, you have to prove that this negligence caused you tangible harm, and that there is a direct line between that negligence and that harm. If there’s no harm, then the negligence does not matter.
You can make guesses at this of course, but the other side can always argue that you were the negligent party. The only real way to know if you have a case is to take advantage of a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.
3. Should I take the settlement the insurance company has already offered?
This is rarely a good idea. These settlements are rarely enough to cover the actual costs of your accident or injury. At the least, you should contact a lawyer before accepting to make sure your case isn’t worth more.
Once you accept a settlement from the insurance company, you’re done: you can’t file another claim or bring another case. Be very sure you’re accepting the right one before you proceed.
4. How much is my personal injury case really worth? What does the average settlement look like?
It depends on how badly you’ve been injured, how much that injury is impacting your life, and even how much your individual outstanding medical bills are. There are caps on some types of damages in Alberta, but not on all types of damages.
Your case may also be impacted by the degree to which you contributed to your own accident.
It’s even impacted by how good of a negotiator your lawyer is. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re working with the best personal injury lawyer you can find.
5. What if I'm partially at-fault for the accident?
You can still make a claim as long as you were not more than 51% responsible for the accident. In some cases doing so will still be worthwhile.
Alberta is a comparative negligence province. This means any award you will receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault the courts eventually assign to you. When you meet with us we’ll go over your entire case and help determine what your percentage of fault might look like.
6. How long do I have to file a claim?
You have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. The longer you wait the harder it can be to win your case, so it’s best to obtain help from a lawyer very quickly after your accident.
7. How much does a personal injury lawyer cost?
Unlike other lawyers, we don’t charge you a massive retainer and we don’t require a huge hourly fee. We work on contingency.
That means we’ll take a percentage of your settlement when the case closes.
Even after our percentage, you’ll get more money in your pocket than you would have gotten had you tried to handle your case alone. That means working with one of our lawyers is essentially risk-free.
8. How can I strengthen my personal injury case?
First, be careful what you say, especially to insurance companies. This is good advice from the moment you get into an accident.
Second, follow all of your doctor’s orders, never refuse medical care, and keep records of all the medical care you receive.
Finally, listen closely to what your lawyer has to tell you and follow the advice you’re given.
9. What is pain and suffering compensation?
It’s essentially compensation for the emotional stress and actual, physical pain you’re going through. It’s separate from your medical expenses, which are called “general damages.”
Here in Alberta, pain and suffering awards are capped at $300,000 and are part of the larger settlement.
10. How do I get my money?
After the settlement is agreed upon, the money gets sent to the law firm. We then disburse it to all of the creditors who have a claim, and we take our percentage. We then issue you a check for the remaining money.
We’ll also issue you a written statement about the money received, where it went, and how much you were entitled to. That way you’ll know how every dollar ultimately benefited you and helped make your life better after your accident.
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