How are legal fees paid ?
At the Schiffmann Law we operate on a contingency fee basis. When we settle your claim, our fees are paid as a percentage of your settlement. We will explain the terms of the contingency fee agreement with you when we meet to discuss your claim. You will never be required to pay us any legal fees until your injury claim is resolved. You will not have to pay any fees up front. Our fees come as a percentage of whatever compensation we obtain in your case. In every case, our retainer is based upon a mutually satisfactory financial arrangement that is fully explained in writing with a case example provided. There are no surprises at the conclusion of the case.
Should I talk to the insurance company before I have consulted with a lawyer ?
No. You are only obligated to notify your insurance company that you have been involved in a car accident and that you have suffered injury. However any other discussions with any insurance company should take place after you have consulted with a lawyer and been advised of your rights. Insurance company representatives fully understand if you provide your lawyer’s name and telephone number and request that all initial discussions be with your lawyer who can make sure you receive the help you will require.
How do I complete all the forms ?
You shouldn’t. Completion of the forms the correct way requires skill and experience. The omission or incorrect usage of a phrase or a sentence can have long term detrimental consequences. The forms should be completed by an accident benefits coordinator.
What types of compensation are available to me ?
An injured person is entitled to recover compensation for their losses resulting from the injury. These losses fall into one of three categories of “damages”, being a. Loss of Enjoyment of Life (pain and suffering), b. Loss of Income / Earning Capacity; and c. Future Care Costs. Damages for loss of enjoyment of life compensate the injured person for the pain and upset which the injury causes. These damages also compensate the injured person for the loss of their ability to participate in their usual and enjoyed recreational activities. Losing the ability to play sports, socialize with friends and family and pursue a beloved hobby is significant. The courts will award damages to compensate the injured person for these losses. Loss of income / earning capacity damages compensate the injured person for the affect which the injury has on their ability to earn an income. For a person who is already part of the workforce, these damages focus on their loss of actual income and their loss of future income. Damages are also awarded to compensate the person for the income they could have expected to earn had they not been injured.
The courts also award damages compensating injured persons for the care costs they will incur. Care costs include the cost of obtaining the services of rehabilitation professionals like a physiotherapist, a psychologist or a case manager. Care costs also include goods which the injured person requires like a wheelchair or home and vehicle modifications to help improve accessibility. Care costs also compensate the injured person for the cost of an aide or attendant to help provide necessary hygiene care, supervision and to help replace the services around the home which the injured person, if healthy, would perform.
Are there time limits which apply to my claim ?
Yes. There are time limits which will restrict your right to claim compensation against the person who caused your injury. These time limits govern when and how you give the person notice that you intend to bring a claim and they govern when you need to actually file your claim with the courts. The time limits which apply to your case will depend on when and how you suffered your injury. You will need to consult a personal injury lawyer to determine which time limits apply to your case.
What if the person who caused the car accident has no insurance ?
In Ontario, people hurt by uninsured motorists can look to their own insurance company to pay their car accident compensation. If you do not have insurance, then the Ontario government will pay your accident benefits and your personal injury compensation. In either case, you must commence a lawsuit in order to obtain injury compensation.
What if my injuries prevent me from working ?
You can receive income replacement benefits through your accident benefit insurance company. An income replacement benefit will pay 80% of your net loss of income up to a maximum of $400.00 per week. You may also be entitled to receive short term disability benefits and/or long term disability benefits through either a privately held insurance policy or a group policy of insurance purchased by your employer. Lastly, you may apply to Canada Pension Plan for a disability pension in certain circumstances. In addition to these benefits, you are entitled to claim for remaining loss of income in your lawsuit.
What benefits am I entitled to if I was not working ?
If you were the primary caregiver for someone in your home before the accident and you are not able to continue providing care after the accident, you may be entitled to caregiver benefits of $250.00 per week. You may be entitled to an additional $50.00 per week for every other person you were taking care of before the accident. Even if you were not the primary caregiver for someone in your home, you may be entitled to non-earner benefits of $185.00 per week beginning six months after the accident, if you are completely unable to carry on a normal life. You must be at least 16 years old to receive non-earner benefits.
The insurance company has appointed treatment providers for me. I would like to choose my own. Who gets to select the people who will treat me ?
The injured person is entitled to select case managers and other treatment providers as are required to assist with rehabilitation and recovery. We recommend that you interview qualified health care professionals before you make a choice. Lawyers, social workers and insurers can put you in touch with these professionals. Schiffmann Law helps its clients find qualified and skilled rehabilitation experts to help them through the recovery process.
What if I am a pedestrian or cyclist and don't have insurance ?
You are still entitled to receive benefits from the accident benefit insurance company or the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund. In addition, you can start a lawsuit against the at fault driver.
What if I'm at fault for the accident ?
You are still able to receive full accident benefits. If your injuries are serious, these benefits may be substantial.