Fact or Fiction Things You Should KNow About Your Accident Claim

MISCONCEPTION #1: A lawyer requires a down payment to accept my injury claim. False. Most personal injury lawyers will take most injury suits for a contingency fee. This means we get paid out of the money we recover for you. If you don't win, you pay no legal fees.

Most lawyers you retain will not charge a fee until there is a settlement and funds are recovered. MISCONCEPTION #2: I'll have to go to court to get what my case is worth. False. Most injury cases are settled before the case goes to court. Often, when the insurance company realizes you and your lawyer are ready and willing to go to court, the insurance company starts making reasonable offers for your injury claim. If we don't like the first offer, we make a counteroffer.

Negotiations may continue until both sides agree on a certain amount. In most cases, injury claims don't require a court trial. MISCONCEPTION #3: I have to accept what my lawyer tells me. False. Anytime you feel confused -- anytime you don't understand what's going on -- you're entitled to and should get a second opinion. For a medical problem, if a significant operation is recommended, you will probably seek another opinion.

Likewise, anytime you speak with one lawyer, you're perfectly free to confirm his/her advice by seeking a second opinion from another lawyer. MISCONCEPTION #4: Once I settle my claim, I can get more money in the future if I have additional medical bills. False. Usually, once your claim is settled, it is over.

MISCONCEPTION #5: My accident was over a year ago, I will never be able to collect all the information and evidence I need to obtain fair compensation. It is too late for my case. False. Certainly, the earlier you start work on your claim, the easier it is to collect information. However, as long as the limitation period for your claim has not expired, there is still time to make a claim.

A skilled personal injury lawyer will be able to compensate for the elapsed time, using experienced investigators to pull together the information required. A lawyer will also tell you what the deadline date is for starting your case. MISCONCEPTION #6: A law suit must be filed within a year. Probably false.

This can be a difficult question to answer. In Ontario, in most personal injuries cases, you have two years to file a lawsuit to protect your rights. However, there are cost penalties if you don't give notice within a shorter time frame. Plus, if your claim is against a governmental entity (such as a city or the province), you may have only 10 days to protect your rights to make a claim, even if you are injured! It is important that you know your rights. If not, you may forfeit your ability to advance a suit for compensation. Seek advice from a personal injury lawyer to identify the time limits.

MISCONCEPTION #7 If I am partly at fault for causing the accident, I am not entitled to any money. False. Money is available to almost all injured accident victims in Ontario who have insurance, regardless of fault. The payment to a driver who caused the accident and who has catastrophic injuries may exceed a million dollars.

Brenda Hollingsworth and Richard Auger are lawyers representing accident victims in Ontario, Canada. Their law firm is Auger Hollingsworth, located in Ottawa. They are the authors of "An Injured Victim's Guide to Fair Compensation". To get free copy of this book, contact ; email or call 613.233.4529.

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