The Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Monday, 16 January 2017

The Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer

#AskRobertGabor

Over the years, personal injury lawyers have been the butt of many jokes, and been referred to by the derogatory term “ambulance chaser”. The reason for this is most people go through their lives fortunately never having to utilize the services of a personal injury lawyer, and so their exact role and the benefits they provide to their clients are not well understood by the vast majority of the population.

While it would be nice if people who are injured as a result of the fault of another person were automatically provided with the compensation they require to rehabilitate and financially support themselves, this unfortunately is not the case in our society. Instead, such people are thrust into an adversarial system where they are required to prove that the other party is at fault for their injuries and then prove the losses they have sustained as a result of the negligence of the other party. The other party is typically protected by an insurance policy which amongst other things provides that party with a fully funded legal defense. Therefore, if the injured person is to be on equal footing, they must themselves have a highly qualified lawyer experienced in the area of personal injury law assisting them with all aspects of establishing their entitlement to compensation for their injuries, as soon as it is evident that they have a potential claim.

A person who is injured as a result of the negligence of another party is entitled to be placed back in the position they would have been in but for the accident by way of financial compensation. The personal injury lawyer will perform various functions crucial to ensuring that an injured person is properly compensated and provided the greatest chance of recovering from their injuries. They will undertake timely and thorough investigation into the facts of the accident to establish liability on the part of the other party. This will require procurement of relevant documents relating to the accident itself such as a motor vehicle accident report, incident report or property ownership records, and may involve retaining forensic experts such as engineers; interviewing witnesses; hiring investigators to obtain photographic or other evidence; and doing research relevant to the liability issues in the case. They will gather together all relevant documents and records regarding the injured person’s pre and post accident medical history, and records relating to their education, employment and income. The lawyer may concurrently assist their client in obtaining necessary attendant care and access to proper treatment and rehabilitation by securing funding from a first party insurer if the injuries have resulted from a motor vehicle accident.

As the matter progresses, the lawyer will likely retain expert witnesses such as medical specialists, forensic accountants, occupational therapists and vocational specialists to provide crucial opinion evidence regarding the nature and extent of the client’s injuries, their economic losses and their future rehabilitation needs. This will all be necessary to ensure that the client is properly compensated for their injuries.

Once the necessary evidence has been gathered, the lawyer may canvas the potential for resolution with the insurer for the other party or their legal counsel. While a court action will not always have to be instituted to obtain proper compensation, more often than not, a statement of claim will have to be drafted and filed in court in order for the at fault party’s insurer to respond properly to the claim. The lawyer will take those steps and then continue gathering evidence as they proceed through all the necessary litigation procedures, including attending at examinations for discovery; preparing a pre trial memorandum and attending at a pre trial;l and then preparing the case for trial and attending at trial if the matter cannot be settled. At any time throughout the process, the lawyer may engage in attempts to resolve the matter by way of settlement discussions, meetings or attendance at a private mediation. The evidence gathered by the lawyer and their expertise in personal injury law,including the proper assessment of damages, will prove invaluable in achieving the best possible result for the accident victim throughout this process.

While accident victims will sometimes be able to receive offers of compensation from insurers before retaining a lawyer, this will typically happen only in cases where it is clear and unequivocal that the other party is at fault, and the victim has sustained serious objective injuries. Unfortunately, in most such cases, the amount of compensation offered to the injured party is woefully inadequate, yet enticing to the accident victim, as they have not gathered the evidence referred to above that a personal injury lawyer would obtain, and they are unaware of the full extent of their losses. Moreover, not having training or expertise in the law of personal injury, they do not know what a proper assessment of damages is for their injuries. As such, the victim is only compounding their losses by not retaining a highly qualified and trained personal injury lawyer to assist them in obtaining the compensation they deserve.

The personal injury lawyer therefore plays an important role in protecting the interests of accident victims. They assist in accessing funding for treatment, rehabilitation and attendant care; they secure compensation for economic losses; and they do their best to put the person back to the position they would have been in but for the accident through financial compensation. If you are seriously injured in an accident, you will quickly understand the critical function they play in ensuring accident victims are properly compensated for their losses.

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