I have been involved in a car accident. What should I do? What are the 'must do's' and 'must not do's'?
Contact the proper authorities: police, ambulance, perhaps fire department.
Get contact information of anyone involved in the accident and any witnesses.
Keep receipts of any expenses: medication, damaged clothing, crutches, braces, etc.
Note all health care providers and dates of medical visits related to your accident.
Note any family members or friends who assist in your care.
Collect all insurance forms that you might be able to claim against: employer's disability benefits, private accident insurance, auto insurance, etc.
Immediately notify your insurance company of the accident and call Gillis Injury Law before giving any formal statement to your insurer.
I have slipped/fallen. What should I do?
Report the incident to the relevant party caring for and maintaining the location.
In case of private property, note the address, and report the matter to an owner, superintendent or tenant. Report to the police if that is relevant and attainable. In case of public property, report to the relevant official authority IMMEDIATELY, in writing, as there are stipulations under the law regarding proper and timely notice (usually within 10 days). Obtain contact information of anyone involved in the accident and any witnesses. Report to a medical authority (family doctor, walk-in clinic, hospital emergency room) as soon as possible. Photograph the scene as soon as possible after the event. Re-attend the location with a friend or other party who can independently attest to its state or condition. Record the weather conditions at the time of the incident. Obtain printouts of the weather situation from Environment Canada's web site.
Keep track of all out-of-pocket expenses, particularly lost wages and time away from employment, including for friends or family who provide you with assistance
I am a victim of medical malpractice. What should I do?
Record the names of all doctors and health care providers who participate in your care during (if appropriate) and after the incident.
Contact Gillis Injury Law as soon as possible so that we can gather pertinent medical documentation and assist you in determining whether or not you have a cause of action.
I have been subject to product liability. What should I do?
Keep the damaging item or device. DO NOT return it to the manufacturer. Report the incident to the manufacturer/distributor, and to the retailer from whom you purchased the item, as soon as possible.
Contact Gillis Injury Law as soon as possible so that we can gather pertinent documentation and assist you in identifying and pursuing the relevant 3rd party.
THE LEGAL PROCESS:
Please explain the legal process involved for a personal injury claim/lawsuit?
First, consider the timing of a suit. In Ontario, one cannot always sue a 3rd party; there is a deadline. The time frame varies depending on the nature of your incident (motor vehicle, medical malpractice, product liability, slip & fall, etc.). Municipal and government entities also have strict stipulations on how soon they must be notified of an incident causing injury, and of your decision to sue for compensation -- perhaps even before you fully know the extent of your damages!
Your best bet is to call or contact Gillis Injury Law for clarification. Once you decide to obtain our legal assistance, we will work to secure as much evidence as possible to show how your injuries have affected you. By establishing a 'baseline' for you both medically and financially, we can determine the impact of the incident on your well-being. To do this, we will gather years of pre-incident data at our own expense. Needless to say, we will also contact your physician and all treating specialists in order to define your post-loss progress and to determine how we can help you seek additional assistance for your recovery, as circumstances permit (e.g., from your own Accident Benefit automobile insurer if you are involved in an MVA).
While we gather data on your damages, we also work to preserve and uncover evidence regarding the level of negligence to be brought in your suit. We contact relevant government and professional authorities and the police, if they were involved in your situation. We seek to make your case as clear as possible to a defendant who may have failed to provide reasonable care to maximize that person's negligence, while minimizing yours. We will discuss with you the timing of the delivery of your legal pleadings and how that will influence the possible timing of your eventual settlement or trial.
Some cases are inherently easier to pin down, both in terms of liability and damages, and others are convoluted and intricate. Frankly, the more money a defendant may have to pay out, the longer an action will inevitably take. Stages of litigation often include pretrial and discovery, where counsel for a defendant has the opportunity to meet with you to ask relevant questions about the injurious incident and its effects on you and your family. This may be as far as you go in terms of official “court” process(es), since many cases resolve after the defendant has a chance to properly evaluate you and your evidence. In the case of a civil action in Ontario, the Rules of Civil Procedure do instill some rights on the defendant, including requesting that you attend several 'Defense Medical' evaluations, so that a doctor or specialist of the defendant's choosing can reasonably determine whether they concur with the diagnosis and prognosis of your injuries and conditions.
Gillis Injury Law will also assist you to develop an appropriate body of medical evidence in order to convey the full extent of your medical situation clearly to a judge or jury. This often includes the hiring of expert witnesses, the cost of which we will bear on your behalf. The timing of such an examination and the number of witnesses varies from case to case.
In the final stage, after all the evidence is gathered, the parties usually meet privately to negotiate a possible settlement. This may culminate in a formal mediation by a senior litigator or a retired judge, which is often a very successful means for reaching a resolution without the time, expense and significant uncertainty of a trial. However, our firm does conduct several trials each year if parties cannot agree on responsibility, or if a defendant fails to reasonably accept the seriousness of damages.
When should I hire a lawyer?
Sooner rather than later is a good rule of thumb. At Gillis Injury Law, we specialize in personal injury, and the earlier we are retained, the more successfully we can help to navigate your claim. In a no-cost, confidential way, you can simply ask questions and receive honest, relevant answers regarding whether or not to sue someone now or in the future, whether to take a 'wait and see' approach, or to embark upon immediate action. Legal limitations in terms of post-incident time expired must be followed critically in order to ensure that you are not technically deprived of commencing a suit for damages simply because you waited too long to proceed.
How do I know if I have a claim?
Often people do not know what level of injury they must sustain in order to obtain proper care and attention from their own insurer, let alone what is required to successfully sue an at-fault 3rd party. It is always advisable to consult with a lawyer who can frankly and privately recommend to you whether to sue presently, or inform you at what point you may become eligible to properly seek out damages should your condition or suffering not improve. Gillis Injury Law often meets new clients who could not have imagined that they would find themselves still seriously sick and suffering more than a year after the occurrence of the incident that caused their injury.
Some injuries (broken bones and other visible trauma) are readily apparent. Others, like chronic back pain or entrenched depression, are subtle and slow to manifest. You may also not know that you have a claim because you did not understand the legal responsibility owed to you by another person, whether that be a private party, medical practitioner, or government body. An early opinion by our office will give you peace of mind and the knowledge regarding your option to sue someone now or in the future.
Some claims must be launched immediately. Different legal limitation dates determine when an action must be commenced. Be proactive and call us for advice regarding your situation.
You should still present your situation to our office for review and consideration. Contributory negligence of another party in your incident (even as little as 1%), may relieve you of some responsibility, and open up an avenue for you to be compensated. In the case of a motor vehicle loss, the Fault Chart does not always dictate the share of liability in a civil suit for personal injury damages. Do not assume that you are totally at fault simply because your own insurer does not waver from the view that you are responsible for the underlying incident. In a motor vehicle accident, it is always possible to query whether road maintenance and improper servicing of roads in inclement weather could be a factor, or whether a manufacturer is liable if your vehicle inexplicably failed to respond. It is worth asking our cost-free opinion if you too are injured.
Our firm offers the kind of personal attention and service usually found only in a small community. As big-city lawyers, we have made a conscious decision to work locally in bedroom communities, and have done so successfully for years -- well before these communities became the thriving cities they are now. Our lawyers appear regularly in courts in Brampton, Newmarket, Milton, Whitby, Orangeville, and Toronto. You are not just a number with our firm: our success has allowed us the freedom to choose whom we want to work with, and has maintained our stellar reputation in the industry. We are easy to locate and convenient to visit, and we regularly see clients after hours, and in their own homes, from Mt. Forest to Barrie, to Hamilton and Peterborough. We are active in our communities, and our priorities include volunteer work with local groups, and pro-bono cases.
Our counsel have a strong history in managing claims for insurers and defending actions, giving us a unique viewpoint on how to best present your case for prompt and fair payment without endlessly extending the life of your case.
Gillis Injury Law works according to a formula that focuses on success. We do not guarantee results, or over-promise, though we like to believe that we often over-deliver. We fix our price on a contingency basis that links our fee to the success of your outcome. On your behalf, we incur expenses that you might not be able to afford, in order to make your case as successful as it deserves to be, and to give you the professional attention to properly shed light on the true impact of your incident upon you and your family. A portion of our fee is covered by a contingency levy on your total award, and a further sum is obtained as a costs provision from the defending party, either in your settlement or final court award. Our rates differ depending on the nature of the case. Call or contact us to book a personal appointment for further information.
Everyone would like to believe theirs is a strong case, but regrettably that is not always true. Most of our staff have worked extensively on the defence side of the industry, and we believe that fact gives us a unique competitive advantage in providing you with a fair and equitable evaluation of your possible outcome. At the same time, our involvement will assist you in strengthening your case in the necessary areas in order to obtain the best result. We are also very pragmatic: the best result is not always the largest award; an important factor is the timing and certainty of when you will receive compensation funds. There is little net return for you if your case drags on for years of pointless litigation.
Case law in Ontario often dictates the range of what sums of money are reasonably available in a given head of damages. The facts of your case in terms of wage loss, out-of-pocket expenses both now and in the future, and the extremity and duration of your pain and suffering all play a part in determining how much financial compensation is likely to be available. Gillis Injury Law does not issue boilerplate claims that exaggerate your needs and thereby diminish your credibility? we tailor your demands to your situation. This approach is well received by our colleagues in the defence industry, underlies the integrity with which we conduct ourselves, and gives weight to the demands we make on your behalf.
How long will it take to settle my case?
Civil cases in Ontario continue to move as slowly through the courts as always, and will usually close out within 2-3 years of your initial incident. But this does not negate the possibility of an earlier result, depending on your expected outcome, and the nature of your trauma and resultant impairments. Gillis Injury Law will work expeditiously to prepare your case for timely movement through the courts, but we will not sacrifice the value of your award for the sake of expediency, or to avoid a trial. Our firm has a strong history of trial advocacy; we will advise you if a settlement offer is not appropriate in terms of fair reimbursement, compensation, and financial security, and will let the civil justice system take precedence over a private settlement.
If you take on my case, will I need to go to trial?
The majority of the cases that we handle do not go as far as final adjudication. The cost of defending a legitimate action is a strong incentive for a defendant to make a reasonable settlement offer. With Gillis Injury Law and its decades of experience in pricing and administrating cases similar to yours on your side, our friends on the defence bar are keen to take our offers to settle to heart. Generally, over 95% of civil cases resolve without having to resort to trial in Ontario. However, we will never refrain from advocating on your behalf in open court, should that be the forum for the fairest result.
Will you help me fill out the forms?
We are more than happy to assist you in deciphering and filling out any insurance forms, and to help you to understand the proceedings in order to make the experience as stress-free as possible.
DEALING WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY:
What should I do if the insurance company calls?
Identify whether the insurance company is yours, or that of a defending party. You are obliged to cooperate with your own insurer in investigating your claim, but you should seek legal guidance when dealing with an insurance carrier that is paying you benefits but may wish to bring your coverage to an end. Gillis Injury Law can assist you in dealing properly with your insurer therein.
My insurance company says I do not need a lawyer. Is this true?
Relations between a client and their own insurer are meant to be cooperative and supportive, as that is the nature of the contract. Regrettably, clients and their own insurers do not always agree on entitlement to coverage and amount of reimbursement. It can certainly be worth having legal counsel to assist you in getting the fairest evaluation and payment of your claims, and to ensure continued access to assistance while you recover from a loss.
What should I do if the insurance company terminates my benefits?
Seek legal advice IMMEDIATELY to ensure that you preserve your right to dispute its position, and to marshal the correct evidence for an appeal when circumstances show that you can be successful.
If I make an accident benefit claim, will my insurance premiums increase?
Absolutely not. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario stipulates that first party accident benefits are not rateable by an insurance company.
What should I do if I can't return to work or take care of my children because of my injuries?
You will need assistance to decipher what policy coverage might be available to you, and how 'electing' certain benefits will affect your subsequent entitlement(s). It is not easy to understand how policies through an employer, insurer, WSIB, ODSP and CPP interact. They need to be carefully coordinated in order to ensure the most effective payout for you and your family.
Do you represent insurance companies?
No. But we do represent clients who need to defend themselves when their insurance company refuses to do so, or when coverages are insufficient to fully indemnify them from the lawsuit of another party.
What does 'no fault' insurance imply?
Each automobile insurer will take care of its own clients for property damages to their respective vehicles, and for the injuries of those clients who were in their vehicle at the time of the accident. It is a common misbelief that insurers will pay each other back based on who is at fault, but subrogation rights exist only in certain situations and have no impact either on the amount of money paid to an accident victim, or on the timely delivery of that money and other services.
If you have been traumatized by an accident in which you were involved or which you witnessed, let Gillis Injury Law help you to identify what benefits you can obtain, and to whom you should direct your applications.