5 Tips for Maximizing Your Personal Injury Settlement

While personal injury cases in Brantford, Cambridge, or Hamilton as well as other communities throughout the Greater Toronto Area are oftentimes complex, there are a number of tips for maximizing your recovery in the settlement process to be aware of.  Though your lawyer would try his/her best to do that, the following tips could be extremely helpful when it comes to maximizing your personal injury settlement.

If you haven’t retained a personal injury lawyer, now is the time to do so – it is very difficult to get the settlement you have in mind if you haven’t retained a personal injury lawyer to represent you and your case.  Not only do they have the experience and the expertise necessary to winning your case, they will ensure that your rights to fair and reasonable compensation are protected. Having a professional in your corner that can understand the law is essential.

Go into negotiations knowing how much you will settle for – naturally you will have an ideal amount in mind but you will probably have to decrease that slightly in order for the insurance company to settle with you.  Go with the amount that your lawyer feels your case is worthy but have a bottom line amount (the lowest amount your will settle for) in mind.  Only you and your lawyer should know what your bottom line amount is.  Do not share this figure with the insurance company adjuster.

Emphasize the emotional points that favor your case – be sure to mention any emotional strong points that support your settlement amount.  If you sent the adjuster a letter with photos of your injuries or your badly damaged vehicle, be sure that you refer to these during negotiations.  While it is almost impossible to place a dollar value on these emotional points, they can be helpful in getting the settlement you deserve.

Never accept the first offer – it goes without saying that the adjuster is going to low ball your settlement amount and while you may be anxious to settle, you could be cheating yourself out of thousands of dollars by jumping at the first offer.  However, keep in mind that you already know what your claim is worth based on your lawyer’s calculations.  If the adjuster’s initial offer is reasonable but still too low, be prepared to respond with a counteroffer immediately.

Make the adjuster validate a low offer – if the initial offer is so low that you know it’s a negotiating tactic or that they are testing you to see if you really know the value of your case, tell him or her to justify the amount they offered.  Keep notes during the course of the conversation.  Depending on their reasons for offering the amount they did, you may want to lower your demand amount slightly.

Once you and the insurance company adjuster have agreed on a settlement amount, put everything in writing in a confirmation letter to the adjuster.

Who can be Sued in a Product Liability Case?

Every designer, distributor, manufacturer, retailer, and other individuals within the chain of distribution owes a specific standard of care to the consumers who purchase and use their products.  The intention is to ensure that dangerous and defective products do not wind up in the hands of the consumer.  These types of products do not meet the consumer’s expectations of safety and can lead to serious injuries and in some cases, fatalities.  There are a number of ways in which this can happen including flaws in the original design, manufacturer error, and wide range of other defects.

Examples of Defective Products

Some of the more common examples of defective products that have been documented in recent years include:

  • Appliances and electronic devices that combust after prolonged overheating
  • Dangerous children’s toys (specifically choking hazards and exposure to lead)
  • Unsafe foods
  • Vehicular mechanical failure

There has been an increased amount of concern throughout North America regarding children’s and toddler’s unsafe toys.  As a result, many of these toys have been recalled off of retailer’s shelves.  Furthermore, government regulatory agencies have become increasingly more active in food product safety standards.  Consequently, we have been seeing an increasing number of recalls due to bacterial contamination and the use of toxic chemicals, all of which are not permitted by Canadian legal standards. That is why you need to consult a legal professional so that you get justice and claim compensation.

The Need for experience Legal Representation

In many cases where defective products are responsible for the serious injury to or death of an individual, product liability claims and lawsuits arise.  So whenever any of the parties in the chain of distribution are deemed responsible for fatalities or injuries you typically see claims and lawsuits arise.  This warrants the legal representation of a personal injury lawyer in Hamilton or the greater Toronto area that specializes in defective product and product liability cases.

What You should know

If you or a loved one was recently injured or passed away when they used a defective product, a personal injury lawyer will ensure that you get the compensation you deserve and that your rights to do so are protected.  Keep in mind 2 things when filing a claim or lawsuit for a defective product that caused injuries.  First, you don’t have to be the person who purchased the product initially and second, you don’t have to be the person who used the product.

Unfortunately, defective product claims and product liability cases are oftentimes very complex matters.  Sometimes, it can be extremely difficult to identify everyone in the chain of distribution that can be held liable for your injuries or a loved one’s demise.  However, in Hamilton, having a personal injury lawyer and their support staff handling your claim and potential lawsuit is a step in the right direction to ensuring that you get the compensation you are deserving of.

The Problems with measuring Pain and Suffering

When the subject of personal injury claims in Cambridge is being discussed, the first thing that often comes to mind is compensation and general damages for a person’s pain and suffering.  A personal injury lawyer that specializes in this particular area of the law knows that compensation for pain and suffering is oftentimes significant.  However, there is much more involved in many personal injury cases.  So some cases will be considerably more lucrative for the plaintiff than just damages.

How much is Your Case worth?

One of the many responsibilities of personal injury lawyers aside from seeking monetary compensation is the establishment of value in claims that involve the pain and suffering factor.  Consequently, the question “How much is my case worth?” can be difficult to answer initially without a serious evaluation of the circumstances surrounding it.  The value of a personal injury case is calculated by taking a number of factors pertaining to the case into consideration.  These include:

  • how well you recover if you do
  • nature and extent of your injuries
  • your health prior to the accident
  • your life style prior to the accident

Unlike in the US where personal injury victims are oftentimes awarded millions of dollars for general damages, the largest amount of damages recorded in a Canadian personal injury case a couple of years ago (2014) was just under $360,000.  Although it sounds crazy to put that high of a price tag on the concept of pain and suffering, there was a reason why the Canadian Supreme Court established limitations on the award amount.

For any injury lawyer in Cambridge and their support team that is involved in a personal injury claim, measuring an individual’s pain and suffering is literally impossible.  After all, how can you put a price on an intangible object? As a result, a judge or jury will be concerned with answering questions such as “Why is person A’s pain and suffering greater than person B’s?” Suffice it to say, answering such a question and establishing a value can be extremely challenging and somewhat frustrating.  You have to wonder if it is calculated fairly under these circumstances. If you like, you can always get a second opinion by referring to another lawyer. That will help you get more clarity.

The Supreme Court of Canada made pain and suffering somewhat easier to quantify by capping or setting a ceiling on the amount of damages that could be awarded.  Also, the Supreme Court did not want to see a situation evolve like it has in the US where these damages could skyrocket into the millions of dollars.  Unfortunately, many personal injury lawyers along with their injured clients feel that the cap is unfair and that the person will not be adequately compensated for their pain and suffering.  As it currently stands, receiving the maximum award is a rare occurrence.

The 6 Key Elements of a Mediation Session

Your personal injury claim has progressed to the mediation stage which your personal injury lawyer in Toronto and you have prepared for it diligently.  Everyone that is involved will be in attendance, most likely positioned around a large conference table.  The mediator opens the session and once he has provided his credentials and explains why he is qualified to be the mediator in your case, the real work begins.

After the opening statement, which he will most likely direct at you, you should expect a discussion revolving around the following 6 key elements of your session:

  • Closure – it will take about 30 days from the time you mediate a settlement until you actually receive your award.  This does depend on whether or not there are medical liens that need to be resolved.  Unfortunately, if you cannot settle in mediations, it could take years to settle your claim in a trial.

Compromise – this is required on both sides if either party has any intention of agreeing to a settlement.  It’s impossible for the plaintiff or defendant to get everything exactly the way they would if there case went into the courtroom.  The hope is to settle somewhere in between your “best day and worst day” in court.  The goal is to see both sides agree on a satisfactory settlement.

Confidentiality – everything is confidential and nothing can be used in a court trial in Toronto.  But as a general rule of thumb, mediation statements cannot be used against you in a trial.  However, the information that those statements contain can be.  This does not preclude what a defense attorney chooses to do outside of court and mediations.  He may find people who attended the session and get the information he is looking for then.

Impartiality – mediators are prohibited from taking sides in a mediation session.  So they cannot give the plaintiff or defendant any legal advice unlike your personal injury lawyer in Toronto and the defendant’s lawyer.  Additionally, the mediator is not there for the purpose of determining a loser or a winner.  He or she is there to facilitate specific communication between the plaintiff and defendant as well as reaching a settlement.

Risk factors – in mediation sessions, each side is allowed to examine those risk factors that could have an impact on your claim.  This is the only time that both lawyers will have a chance to identify those risks that each side could be facing during the course of the session.

The benefit of mediation over a jury trial is that you can control the outcome of your claim and case.  If it goes into the courtroom, the jury controls it.  The bottom line is that even in the best case scenario, a trial by jury yields an uncertain outcome. That is why it is essential that out of court settlements finalizes and you get the compensation amount faster.

Recent Changes affecting Accident Benefits Claims

The world of personal injury law is a very complex, constantly evolving entity where change is inevitable where certain laws are concerned.  One area that seems to be constantly changing is accident benefits claims.  As a result, the world of the personal injury lawyer in Brantford and his or her legal teams are in a continual state of self-education in order to stay current with the laws at hand.  So it goes with saying that these benefits are a tremendously dense and complex area of personal injury law.

There are those who contend that accident benefit rules and regulations have been designed to impose limits on an injury victim’s ability to recover what they have lost and that they tend to favor the large insurance companies.  However, it is not a group of injury victims that is responsible for making and enforcing these laws, occasionally tweaking them from time to time.  Instead it’s the insurance companies and their deep pockets, along with a handful of experts, who do so in order to satisfy political lobbyists.  But enough for the political aspects of accident benefits claims.

Arbitrary Decisions to be Aware of

While the list is rather lengthy, the following are some of the more important decisions regarding accident benefits that have recently been imposed:

  • A maximum of $400/week in standard auto insurance coverage for income replacement benefits which DO NOT reflect the past 15 years of inflation
  • Claims that are not classified as catastrophic but are not minor either will have a maximum recovery of $50,000
  • No monetary reimbursement for any injury victim that travels less than 50 km to visit their physician or healthcare provider
  • Pain and suffering deductible increases to $36,500 from $30,000
  • Soft tissue injuries that have been categorized under the guidelines for minor injuries will be eligible for no more than $3,500 maximum recovery

It would appear that the government just picked out random numbers when establishing these deductibles and maximum recoveries.  But the bottom line is that an injury victim will have to rely on the experience and expertise of an injury lawyer and their teams of legal assistants in Brantford if they feel those amounts are not satisfactory. If you or a loved one is looking to get maximum compensation, seeking the assistance of an expert lawyer is necessary.

Over and above the information presented here, the biggest amendment or change is the eventual elimination of the FSCO (Financial Services Commission of Ontario) which is scheduled to happen on March 31st, 2016.  After that point, all accident benefit claims will be handled by the LAT (License Appeal Tribunal), an organization that is already flush with other responsibilities.  Unfortunately, there is a downside to this and that is the elimination of the injury victim’s ability to dispute their claim in court.  This will also predicate the need for legal representation in some instances.