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Personal Injury Newsletter
* Pedestrians -
Know Your Rights
* Government commits to
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read The Quill
10 steps involved in a personal injury claim
Matt Napier and his team want you to focus on getting better, and let us take care of the rest.
1. Making initial contact:
Please do not give a statement to the Defendant insurance adjuster without Matt and his team's involvement. After your initial interview, we write to your family doctor, to the defendant insurance company, and to any other appropriate parties. We notify them that you have retained our services. We ask that you read through everything we send you carefully, fill out and return all of the forms, and keep all of your related records in your folder.
2. Learning the terminology:
In documentation and correspondence you receive, you will see some terminology you may not be completely familiar with; it's worth investing a few moments in learning the meaning of some legal terms. For instance: you, as the injured party, are the "Plaintiff". The person who caused the injury (or in some cases who is liable for that person) is the "'Defendant". The insurance company for the person who caused the injury is the defendant insurance company. The "limitation period" is the final date by which proceedings must be commenced in the court system. Generally, if proceedings are not commenced by that date, a claim cannot be made.
3. The initial filing of court documents:
We carefully monitor the limitation period and ensure that documents are filed in court prior to that date, to ensure your claim is secure. This initial filing of the court documents does not mean your case will go to court. However, it does ensure that, if negotiations fail, the option of going to court is available to you.
4. Determining Liability:
If there are questions raised as to liability (ie. who is at fault) in your case, or if the details surrounding the accident itself are not clear, we may obtain a police or Registry of Motor Vehicles report, contact witnesses, and/or conduct research to establish where your case stands. The defendant insurance company may also request your statement concerning the details of the accident and your resulting injuries, and this will be arranged through Matt Napier. At this stage of the process we ask that you provide us with as much information as possible about the collision, so that this information may be used to confirm liability.
5. Gathering evidence:
The next step requires that we gather evidence to prove your case. Typically, we obtain medical records and reports, as well as documentation supporting any lost wages and/or out-of-pocket expenses you may have incurred as a result of the accident. We send copies of all of these medical records and reports to you. We will do all we can to help your case but please be aware that: any and all help you can offer with regard to pitching in, in collecting documentation for your case, will serve to ensure we advance the best possible case on your behalf.
6. Things for you to do, and know:
Next, we encourage you to do a few specific things: read through these records and reports carefully as soon as you receive them; flag any areas of concern; and return them to our office. The defendant insurer is entitled to disclosure of your prior medical history. However, we try to screen medical records for sexual or gynecological history, as well as references to third parties (ie. family members), and to remove them where possible.
It's also important for you to know this fact: medical evidence is relied upon heavily throughout the claim process. As a result, it's important that you attend all scheduled medical-related appointments and participate in all recommended treatments. In the covering letter to you, we will ask that you let us know of any areas of concern.
7. Presenting your case:
Once we have sufficient evidence on your file to present your case, we prepare a settlement proposal (also called a "demand letter") for the defendant insurance company. This proposal represents the starting point of negotiations for your claim. Matt will speak to you before it is submitted to the defendant insurance company. We confirm the extent of authority we have to negotiate on your file. We will use the initial recommendations made on your behalf to engage the Defendant insurance company in round(s) of negotiations. As such, we will not linger on the initial recommendation, but will ensure that it fully represents your interests. Our team will then negotiate with the Defendant insurance company, or with a lawyer hired by the Defendant insurance company, to try to reach the best possible settlement. You will be notified of any subsequent offers that may arise during these negotiations.
8. The "discovery" process:
The lawyer for the defendant insurance company may require additional information from you, and may request this is done by examination for discovery. This is an oral examination under oath of each party. It is not conducted before a judge. A court reporter takes down the evidence. The object of the examination is to obtain information about your case. There may also be "examinations for discovery" of other witnesses upon the request of either the defendant lawyer, or our legal team. (This usually takes place after we file documentation with the court prior to the expiration of the limitation period.) Should any discovery take place, you will be notified well in advance and we will prepare you, prior to the discovery, and be there to represent you during this discovery.
9. Reaching a settlement:
As an agreement has been reached between the defendant insurance company and us, on how much your claim is worth, your file will be prepared for settlement. A cheque from the defendant insurance company will be forwarded to our office along with a final release document, which you will be required to sign prior to receiving your funds. The final release is a document that discharges the defendant insurance company from any further claim related to your accident.
10. Going to trial:
Most personal injury claims do not reach this stage. Why? A settlement is often reached either before, or after, any discoveries. (In fact, in most civil litigation, only a small fraction of cases actually reach the courtroom but we are prepared to take your case to court as needed and as you so agree.) If, however, it is determined we need to proceed to trial, you will be consulted before any steps are taken.
The Napier Legal Team, part of the BOYNECLARKE LLP law firm - www.boyneclarke.ns.ca - is located at 99 Wyse Rd, Suite 600, Dartmouth, NS Canada B3A 4S5