Author: Clarke Law

What questions should I ask before hiring a personal injury lawyer?

A lot is riding on your decision on whom to hire as your personal injury lawyer. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you want to ensure that you choose the right professional to help you get all of the compensation that you are entitled to.

But how do you know who to hire? Certainly, you can ask for referrals from friends and family and you can review prospective lawyers’ websites. But ultimately you will want to meet face to face with a personal injury lawyer before you hire them and make sure that you feel comfortable and confident working with that individual. And when you meet them, there are a few key questions that you can ask to help you make your decision.

Question #1 – What are your financial terms?

Anyone that you hire should be up front with you about what they charge and how they set their fees. Some lawyers will only charge their clients if they are successful, but this is not always the case. Some law firms will finance your entire case, while others charge only for disbursements until the conclusion of your case. Make sure that you understand clearly when payment is expected and how they set their rates. If there is anything you do not understand, this is the time to ask. Also ask if they are willing to outline that for you in writing.

Question #2 – What experience do you have with cases like mine?

The more experienced your lawyer is, the better the chance that they will be able to get the maximum benefit for you. Specifically, you will be interested in hearing about cases that are similar to yours. This is also a good opportunity to inquire about their particular methods – for example, do they have health professionals that they can refer you to for treatment and medical reports.Ask your prospective lawyer to show you referrals from satisfied clients as well as outcomes from recent cases that have gone to court.

Question #3 – What professional organizations have you received recognition from?

This is really a two part question. You will want to know first that your prospective lawyer is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and therefore, permitted to practice law in Ontario.

The second part of this, is you will want to know if the lawyer has been recognized for their work such as by the Ontario Trial Lawyers’ Association, The Advocates’ Society or through any legal or medical publications. Once you have had some time to sit down with a personal injury lawyer and really discuss their experience and qualifications, it will be much easier to make a decision on whether or not to hire them for your case.

Question: Developing Your Case

Before you go through the long process of a suit, your lawyer will want to make sure that there is a reasonable chance of success.Expert witnesses are used to testify whether or not you received the appropriate standard of care from your healthcare provider. It must be proven that your injuries were the result of a failure to meet this standard.

Question: Experience in the courtroom

Another reason that you will require a lawyer is because if you decide to pursue the case, there is a good chance that it will end up in court. Unlike other types of personal injury cases, in which most of them settle out of court, malpractice suits tend to end up in court. This is because doctors are represented by an organization called the Canadian Medical Protective Association. This organization is made up other doctors who administer claims of medical malpractice against their members and they often fight these cases right till the end.

Being the victim of medical malpractice, can be both difficult and frustrating. When injuries occur as a result of medical treatment or neglect, it is important to have a medical malpractice lawyer on your side who understands this complex area of the law and knows how to fight for you

I hear my accident lawyers using the terms “tort claims” and “accident benefit claims”. What’s the difference?

Injuries can happen to anyone, and when they do it can be a nightmare for both you and your family bringing on both physical and financial hardship. Fortunately, when you enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer, they can help relieve that financial pressure by helping you apply for and collect accident claims.

When your lawyer speaks to you about accident claims they will recommend that you apply for accident benefit claims, bring a tort claims – or do both.

Accidents are just that – accidents. And as such, they do not, in most cases, fall under the Criminal Code of Canada. While crimes such as drunk driving may cause accidents, it is far more common for accidents to be caused by errors in judgement or other mistakes. The laws governing such mistakes fall into two categories.

Tort Claims

Tort claims have to do with receiving compensation from at fault parties. They are intended to help your family and loved ones through the pain and suffering that they endured as a result of the accident. Tort claims may take expenses such as health care costs into consideration, but they can also include mental anguish and stress.

Tort claims may also be made to offset expenses that were incurred as a direct result of the accident as well as to compensate the victims for lost income as well as lost ability to earn an income, or even for funding for re-training if you are unable to go back to your former employment.

If you are partly at fault for the accident you may still make a tort claim. However, to the degree that you were at fault, there will be a deductible. For example, say you were in a car accident and it was deemed that you were 20% responsible. If it is determined that your pain and suffering is worth $10,000, there will be a 20% deductible and you will receive $8,000.

Accident Benefit Claims

Accident Benefit claims may be applied for by anyone who was in the accident. It doesn’t matter who was at fault – which is why they are also called no-fault benefits. These are claims against insurance companies and their purpose is to off-set costs associated with injuries or death resulting from an accident. Among the costs that accident benefit claims can help with are treatment expenses, medical bills, income replacement, and funeral costs. These claims will be paid by your own insurance company regardless of who is at fault. Your personal injury lawyer will be able to help you through the application process.

Question: How Personal Injury Lawyer Helps with Accident Claims?

The time following a personal injury can be hectic and confusing. You will want to make sure that you receive all the benefits that you are entitled to, but it is not always easy to know which kind of accident benefits you are entitled to and how much it is possible for you to collect. Fortunately, your personal injury lawyer is an expert in these matters and has been through this with other clients many times. They will help you at each step of the process to ensure you get the accident benefits that you are entitled to.

What information will my personal injury law firm need in a slip and fall case?

If you are injured because of a slip and fall that was someone else’s fault, obtaining help from a personal injury law firm is the best way to ensure that you are properly compensated for your injuries and any financial loss that you suffered or will suffer as a result.

In order for your personal injury law firm to have the best chance of success however, there are certain things that you can do following your fall.

Question: Know who has the responsibility.

Property owners are responsible to ensure that their properties are safe and do not present trip, slip or fall hazards. This includes both homeowners as well as business owners and managers.

Municipalities are also responsible to ensure public streets and other municipal property is kept clean and safe to help prevent people from injuring themselves by falling.

In work situations, employers are responsible to ensure that proper health and safety codes and practices are followed in order to help prevent injury.

Question: What to do when a fall happens?

In order to get compensation for a slip, trip or fall, it must first be established that the fall – and therefore the injury – was someone else’s fault.

Try to document as many details as you can about the circumstances surrounding the fall. For example, was their ice on the steps or severely damaged pavement? Was there lack of proper signage or poor lighting? If you have a camera or a smartphone with you, take photos. You should report the incident right away and put it in writing. Make sure that the property owner or manager is notified. You should also keep copies of any medical reports you receive after your injuries.

Finally, you should contact a personal injury law firm right away. Your lawyer can help you recover the financial loss that you suffered as a result of your injury.

Question: How your lawyer can help?

The field of personal injury law is very complex and specialized. Often when an injury occurs, it is difficult to know right away how it could affect your finances.

An experienced lawyer however has been through this process many times before and knows what steps to take to ensure that you receive the maximum benefits that you are entitled to. People who don’t hire lawyers and try to handle these kinds of situations on their own, more often than not, receive far less than they would have if they had hired a lawyer.

Slips and falls can cause serious injuries – and if you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, it can be a frustrating position to be in, not only because of any physical pain you might be experiencing but also the financial stress of lost income and medical expenses. A personal injury law firm can help by alleviating those financial burdens for you.

If I was in a motor vehicle accident, how can I help my lawyers build my case?

Personal injury lawyers help people who are injured to recover benefits and damages that they are entitled to. This financial compensation can be a huge help to victims and their families who are not only dealing with the loss of physical ability, but are often under considerable financial stress due to lost income, medical costs and other expenses that have arisen as a result of the injury.

Your lawyer will guide you through the process, helping you to know what your rights are and what to expect. Whether your case involves dealing with insurance companies only, going to mediation or actually going to court, it will be important for your lawyer to collect as many details about the accident and your injuries as possible in order to build your case.

Question: What information will my lawyer ask for?

In order to start building your case, personal injury lawyers will often ask for a number reports and other evidence. This might include some or all of the following:

  • Medical examination documents and records – In order to fully understand how much compensation you may be entitled to, it is important for your lawyer to have access to your medical records and documents. Your lawyer needs to have a good idea as to what future expenses and losses you might incur because of your injuries.
  • Medical receipts – This one is fairly straightforward. Your lawyer will want to ensure that you get compensated for any medical expenses that you incurred as a direct result of your injury.
  • Photographs of your injuries – These may be used to help you with insurance companies or in a lawsuit against another party.
  • Photographs of the accident site – These can help to establish who is at fault and make it easier to prove your case.
  • Police and witness reports – Again, these may be important in establishing who was to blame for the accident.

The above list is only a sample of the items that your lawyer might request to start building your case. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, there may be other things that they ask for as well.

Question: What if I don’t have everything that my lawyer is asking for?

Do not worry if you don’t have everything that your lawyer needs to build your case. For example, if you were involved in a serious accident you may not have had the presence of mind (or even the ability) to take photos or collect other evidence at the scene. Your lawyer will work with you to compile evidence, but they will also work with others such as your health care providers, police officers and witnesses to put together the missing parts of the puzzle. It is helpful if you can provide your lawyer with as many details as possible, but you also shouldn’t stress over the fact that you are not able to provide everything. Personal injury lawyers are experienced in helping their clients get the compensation that they need to recover and get on with their lives – and to accomplish this they know what sources they will need to access to build your case.

My personal injury lawyer is talking about mediation. What does that mean?

Many personal injury lawyers will suggest that cases be settled through mediation when it makes sense to do so. While there may be occasions when cases only reach their conclusion in the courtroom, far more are settled before it ever gets that far. Mediation is one of the tools that is used to do this. It is often a less expensive, less stressful and less time consuming way to go.

Question: What is Mediation?

During a mediation, all the parties involved will meet with a neutral person (the mediator) in an effort to help resolve their conflict. Parties may include others involved in the accident and insurance adjustors. Mediation is voluntarily and the cost is usually split between participants. Parties are allowed to speak freely without having to worry that something they say may cause them to lose their case. They will speak to each other with the mediator in the room and to the mediator alone.

When speaking with the mediator alone, the mediator will try to help each party come closer to the other party’s way of seeing the situation until a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, each side is back to where it was before the mediation began.

Question: What is the benefit of mediation?

There are several reasons why your lawyer may recommend mediation. If you have been dealing with an insurance adjuster only by telephone, email, or through the mail, a face to face mediation can suddenly turn you into a “real human being” and not simply a case file on a desk. This may help to make the adjustor more sympathetic toward you.

If the insurance adjustor becomes involved in a mediation, he or she may also work harder on your case to come up with a settlement.

Additionally, if you case is settled through mediation, the process tends to be much quicker than it would be if it went to court – allowing you to collect your benefits sooner and get on with your life.

Question: Are there any drawbacks to mediation?

Professional mediators can be quite costly and there is no guarantee that your mediation is going to result in a settlement. Furthermore, the only way a mediation can happen is if the other parties agree to it.

Question: How do I know if I should request a mediation?

Your lawyer will advise you on whether they think the benefits of a mediation would outweigh the risks. If your personal injury lawyer has recommended mediation, it is because they believe that doing so will lead to a settlement. This is yet another way lawyers can assist their clients.

How is negligence in Toronto proven according to personal injury law?

When an injured person makes a claim that their injury happened because of the negligence of another, they (their lawyer) must be able to prove this is the case before they can collect damages from another party. Personal injury law in Toronto sets out five clear standards on how to prove negligence.

Standard #1 – “duty of care”

The concept of the duty of care is that people must not harm others either through their actions or omissions. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant had a legal obligation toward the defendant.

Standard #2 – “standard of care and its breach”

The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant had a specific standard of care that they breached. This standard would be that of any reasonable person. Examples of a breach of standard of care might include things such as following too closely in the case of a car accident, or having clutter on the ground in the case of a trip and fall accident.

Standard #3 – “cause in fact’

Negligence alone is not cause for a lawsuit. In addition to proving that the defendant was negligent, the plaintiff must demonstrate the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, if the plaintiff argues that the defendant was negligent in not using his turning signal, the defendant may argue that this was not the cause of the accident, but rather that the accident was caused when the plaintiff failed to stop at a stop sign.

Standard #4 – “remoteness of damages”

Additionally, the plaintiff must be able to show that their resulting injuries were a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligence and therefore that steps should have been taken by the defendant to avoid this.

Standard #5 – “an actual loss”

In order to collect any damages, the plaintiff must have suffered an actual loss.


Question: What defences might the defendant use?

If your lawyer has been able to prove that it was indeed the negligence of another party that caused your injury, you can be prepared to hear one or more of the following defences:

  • Contributory negligence – in other words, the defendant may argue that you were partly to blame for your injuries. If this is proven your benefits will be reduced by the percentage to which the accident was your fault.
  • Voluntary assumption of risk – in other words, they may argue that you knew the risks of a given task and decided to do it anyway.
  • The plaintiff had the same limitations prior to the accident.
  • The plaintiff is not consistent with her or his reporting of the symptoms thus cannot be trusted.
  • The plaintiff has not kept record of all of the symptoms and thus unreliable historian of the symptoms.
  • Those symptoms are no limiting the plaintiff doing his or hers daily activities or to vacation, travel.
  • The plaintiff’s symptoms and limitations are not serious or permanent to meet the legal threshold or to surpass the $30,000.00 deductible in motor vehicle actions, which is kept by the insurance company of the negligent party.

Personal injury law can be complex and it takes a trained lawyer to know how best to help an injured person. Proving negligence is not always easy but it is often essential in helping you to get properly compensated for your injuries.

Is it necessary to hire a lawyer that specializes in brain injury cases?

Personal injury law is a unique and complex area of the law. Injuries to the brain are even more complex, so it is important to enlist the help of a lawyer that specializes in brain injury cases who can help get you the compensation that you are entitled to.

Question: What is a brain injury?

Brain injuries may occur from a number of causes including accidents, illnesses and environmental factors. It is estimated that over 16,000 Ontarians sustain brain injuries each year. These injuries may be minor and temporary such as in the case of minor concussions or they may be permanent, life altering events. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the result of trauma or when damage is caused to the brain as a result of external force. This can be caused by an accident such a fall, motor vehicle accident or physical assault. Brain injuries differ from other types of injures because they are rarely visible and may take some time for the full extent and the effect of the injury to be apparent.

Question: How these injuries affect the victim and their families?

A serious brain injury can be devastating, not only for the victim but for their loved ones as well. The brain controls a person’s physical and cognitive abilities as well as their emotions. When brain injuries occur, effects may include impaired cognition, loss of physical ability such as walking or speech, or unpredictable emotional reactions. This type of injury can be especially difficult for families because their loved one can seem like a different person after the injury has occurred. Depending on the severity, it may affect a person’s ability to work and earn an income. When this happens, the family is left not only to deal with the physical and mental consequences of the injury but the financial burden of lost income and extensive medical care.

Question: Why hire a lawyer specializing in brain injuries?

Your lawyer will be able to let you know what your rights are in a particular case. They will also be able to let you know where you can make claims and help you determine which parties you may sue for damages. If the brain injury occurred as the result of a car accident, you lawyer can help you with insurance forms and even speak to your insurance company on your behalf. If the brain injury occurred as the result of a slip and fall, your lawyer can help you determine whether or not negligence was involved and if so help determine fault and issue a lawsuit. While suing for damages may seem like just one more stressor in an already stressful situation, your lawyer can actually help relieve the financial stress that can result from the injury. They will set out a clear action plan to recover damages for things such as medical costs, attendant costs, lost income and earning potential and much more. Lawyers experienced with brain injury cases perform an important service for their clients and loved ones. They help them to receive the benefits they need to get on with their lives.

What common mistakes do people make when choosing (or not choosing) personal injury law firms?

Hopefully, you will never have to be in the position where you are serious injured and must shop around for personal injury law firms. But if you are injured and require the help of a lawyer to receive compensation, there are a few mistakes that you should try to avoid.

Mistake #1 – Trying to do it on your own

There are many reasons why injured people choose not to go to personal injury law firms when they need help. They may have received bad advice from their insurance company, or they may think that they cannot afford a lawyer. But not contacting a lawyer can be a big mistake – It can ultimately mean getting far less compensation than you are entitled to. At the very least, you should schedule a free consultation. This will allow you to find out what compensation you might get from your case and help you to make a more informed decision about whether to move forward with the firm.

Mistake #2 – Not getting referrals or testimonials

Just like any other professional that you hire, it is a good idea to get referrals or look at testimonials. If you have friends or family that have been involved in a personal injury case, you should ask them to tell you about their experiences. If you don’t know anyone who has been involved in this type of case, then you should as any prospective personal injury law firms for referrals and testimonials. They may have testimonials posted on their website, but if they’ve had cases that have gone to court, you may also be able to find out the outcome of some of their cases. When it comes to getting compensated for an accident, it is important to have the most qualified lawyers possible on your team.

Mistake #3 – Trusting the advice of insurance companies

If you’ve been in an accident, and you are now speaking to representatives of either your own insurance company, or that of the defendant’s, you should never rely on their advice. What you have to remember, is that this person is working for the insurance company and not for you. Their job is to ensure that the company only has to pay the minimum amount possible. You may be entitled to much more, but they will never tell you that. You need your own legal representation.

Mistake #4 – Settling too early

Financial difficulties can quickly arise when you’ve been injured. When you’ve lost your income because you are unable to work, and the medical expenses are piling up, it can be tempting to jump at the first offer that you get. But again, this can mean that you’ll end up missing out on cash that you really deserve. Your lawyer can help you weather this storm and let you know when to settle and when to hold out for more.

Mistake #5 – Choosing a lawyer based on rate alone

Different personal injury law firms may structure their rates differently but this should not be your deciding factor. It is important to choose a firm that has a good track record of success and a lawyer that you feel comfortable and confident working with – because this is likely to be a long term relationship.

How much compensation can I get for my car accident injuries?

The compensation paid out to people with car accident injuries varies depending on a number of factors. Largely, it is based upon the existing laws in Canada surrounding injuries and awards. It is also based on who is held responsible for the car accident, and how much insurance they possess. It is also based on the severity of your injuries, and the ability of your personal injury lawyer to secure you the best award possible. Even if you are at fault for the accident, there is compensation for your injuries through your own insurance company. Be aware that your premiums may go up after filing a claim, but your insurance should pay you the appropriate benefits. Your injury lawyer will make sure you get all of the compensation you’re entitled to.

Question: How much compensation can I expect?

When filing a claim with your own insurance company, this will depend on how much coverage you purchased, and how serious your injuries are. When filing a claim against the other driver, it will depend on their coverage. In minor injury cases, there is a maximum of $3,500 coverage for medical and rehabilitation benefits. When injuries are considered catastrophic, you may receive up to $1,000,000 over the course of your lifetime. However, a more common amount is up to $50,000 for treatments such as assistive devices like wheelchairs, rehabilitation and counselling, home modifications, and prescription medications, over the course of 10 years following the accident. These are services not covered by OHIP. Discussing your specific case with the personal injury lawyers at Clarke Law will give you the best idea of what type of case you have, and how much you may receive.

Question: What can I do to ensure maximum compensation?

To ensure you get the most coverage, it is important not to admit fault to the other driver on the scene. It is best to exchange insurance and contact information, and then let your lawyer handle all future communication with the other driver. So, hiring a lawyer as soon as possible is your best course of action. You will want their support when you need to contact the insurance companies.

You can also take photos of the scene, in order to provide evidence of the damage, and document exactly what injuries you have sustained. Keep a log of all of your medical appointments, bills, medications, and aches and pains, so that your lawyer has all of the relevant information. Do not post on social media or anywhere on the internet any details of your accident, as the other party may try to use this against you. Always be honest with your lawyer about pre-existing medical conditions that might contribute to or negate your injuries. It is crucial that your lawyer has exact and accurate information so that you can proceed with your claims, or even a civil suit.

Remember that each case is unique, and your car accident injuries and your award will differ from others you’ve heard of. The best thing you can do is hire a competent, experienced lawyer, like the lawyers at Clarke Law, to handle your case and guide you through the process.


What compensation can I seek if I’ve had a brain injury because of someone’s negligence?

There are several forms of compensation you can receive by obtaining a brain injury. As with any accident, hiring a lawyer as soon as possible is in your best interest in receiving the compensation you deserve. Like other accident cases, you and your lawyer will have to prove that the injury was a direct result of someone’s negligence or harmful behaviour.

The types of compensation benefits you might receive can include income replacement due to loss of wages, or non-earner benefits if you don’t have a job, or caregiver benefits, if you are the primary caregiver in your family. You will likely be eligible for medical service benefits, to cover the medical and paramedical services not covered by OHIP that arise from your brain injury.

There are other forms of benefits that you might also be entitled to receive, so contacting an injury lawyer is crucial to you receiving all the help you deserve. Similarly, if an immediate family member, such as a spouse or a child, has sustained catastrophic injuries, or died as a result of a brain injury, you may be able to fight to benefits on their behalf. If your loved one cannot fight for their own benefits, you should contact a lawyer and see what you can do for them. The lawyers at Clarke Law can help you with the brain injury you have sustained.

Question: What kind of accident might cause a brain injury?

Brain injuries can result for a variety of accidents, including car accidents, slip and falls, sports, and incidents of crime. The accident might not seem serious at the time, but if you have hit your head, or even suffered a severe psychological trauma, you may have received a brain injury. Sometimes they are visible, such as a bump or a cut, and sometimes they are internal and invisible. Both can be considered serious, and require attention.

Question: What symptoms might arise from a brain injury?

Brain injury symptoms are divided into two categories: mild, and moderate to major. Mild symptoms include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, mood alteration, sleep issues, concentration and memory concerns, blurred vision, and balance problems. These symptoms can be short-lived, but require attention nonetheless. Moderate to major brain injury symptoms include severe nausea and vomiting, convulsions or seizures, loss of vision or hearing, loss of coordination, increased headaches, and speech problems. These symptoms are often longer-term, and are especially disconcerting. Extreme forms of brain injuries can include comas or even death.

All symptoms are to be taken seriously, as sometimes they worsen over time. Something that seems mild may escalate into a more serious injury. Seeking medical attention is crucial for brain injuries; seeking the help of a lawyer can be equally important. Notifying Clarke Law of your or your loved one’s brain injury immediately will help them help you receive the most compensation possible. Brain injuries are a serious matter, and those at fault need to be held responsible, and you need to receive the compensation necessary for getting through such a difficult circumstance.