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Demystifying the Personal Injury Claims Process

It doesn’t matter if you are a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist—you are entitled to claim for compensation if you’ve been hurt in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else’s fault.  


To get the compensation you deserve, you must navigate the personal injury claims process. That process can be complicated, confusing, and overwhelming, especially when you are already dealing with the injuries and pain caused by the motor vehicle accident.  

You don’t have to manage the personal injury claims process on your own 


The good news is that you don’t have to go through it alone. A Sault St. Marie personal injury lawyer at our law firm can guide you through the process from start to finish. Having a lawyer on your side means you don’t have to figure out the deadlines, paperwork, evidentiary requirements, or legal jargon on your own.  Your lawyer will explain your legal rights and the critical steps involved in the personal injury claim process, so you know what to expect at each stage.  


personal injury claims

Demystifying the process of bringing a personal injury claim 

Our law firm prides itself on empowering our clients with knowledge. Demystifying the personal injury claims process is one of the ways we provide clarity for our clients. 

Here is a general overview of the personal injury claims process to help you gain an understanding of what to expect after being injured in a motor vehicle accident.  


Consult with a personal injury lawyer 

The recommended first step in the process is to reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer, as soon as possible after the accident. Every step in the process that follows will be more straightforward when you have a lawyer on your side.  


At the initial meeting, your lawyer will review the circumstances surrounding how the accident occurred and what injuries you suffered as a result. Your lawyer will advise you if you have a case, and if so, explain your legal options and devise a legal strategy to get results.  


Submit an insurance claim 

If you have not already done so, the next step is to report the motor vehicle accident to the relevant insurance providers and open a claim. There are tight deadlines that apply to insurance claims. To make a claim for accident benefits, you must notify your insurer within 7 days of the accident. You must then file the completed application package within 30 days after receiving the forms from your insurer.  


Gather and preserve evidence 

The next step in the process is to collect documents and other evidence to support your personal injury claim. That includes: 

  • police and ambulance reports;  

  • medical records from your doctor and any other healthcare providers (hospital, chiropractor, physiotherapist, etc.);  

  • witness statements;  

  • photographs of the accident scene and your injuries;  

  • receipts for medications, treatments, and other out-of-pocket expenses;  

  • documents to show income loss as a result of the motor vehicle accident, such as employment records, pay stubs, and income tax returns.  


Evidence collection is an ongoing part of the process. It’s vital to continue gathering and preserving evidence as your case progresses. To obtain compensation, you must prove the fault of the other person and the types of injuries you sustained as a result. The better your evidence, the better the outcome of your case.  


Start your personal injury lawsuit 

A personal injury lawsuit is started by preparing a Statement of Claim, which is filed with the court and served on the defendants. Your Statement of Claim must contain certain information, including the names of the parties, the particulars of the motor vehicle accident, and the facts that support your injuries and the damages you suffered. Your lawyer will prepare the Statement of Claim on your behalf.  


There are limitation periods and deadlines that must be met in personal injury lawsuits. For example, the usual rule is that you have two years from the date of the accident to start court proceedings, though the limitation period much shorter if your claim is against a government or municipality. If you miss the limitation period, you may lose the right to claim for compensation.  


Another deadline is that the defendant(s) must serve and file a Statement of Defence within 20 days of being served with your Statement of Claim.      


Exchange evidence through the discovery process 

After pleadings have been exchanged, the next step is the discovery process. Parties to the lawsuit must swear and exchange an Affidavit of Documents that lists all relevant documents. That includes documents pertaining to how the accident occurred and the injuries you sustained. Parties must list any documents they plan to use at trial, but they must also list relevant documents that don’t help their case—unless the document is privileged.  


Once documents have been exchanged, oral discovery is the next step in the process. Each party to the lawsuit can be subject to oral examination by the opposing party. The questions must be related to the documents and pleadings in the case. Questioning is done under oath and transcribed by a court reporter. Your lawyer will conduct oral discovery of the defendant(s), help you prepare for your oral examination, and protect your rights when you are testifying under oath.  


Negotiate with the insurance company 

This step is typically ongoing throughout the process. There are usually many informal opportunities to put forward settlement proposals and consider settlement offers from the insurance company. While early settlement has some advantages, we don’t recommend settling until your injuries have settled and you have recovered as much as possible from your injuries.  


Mediation  

In Ontario, mediation is a voluntary step in the personal injury claims process. Mediation is more formal than direct settlement negotiations between lawyers, insurers, and the parties, but it is less formal than a trial. At mediation, a neutral third party—known as the mediator—listens to the facts and the parties’ positions on the issues, then helps the parties explore settlement possibilities. The mediator is not allowed to make decisions for the parties.  


Pre-Trial 

If settlement at mediation is not possible, the next step in the process is the pre-trial conference. All parties to the personal injury lawsuit must provide a written brief that explains their case and the ongoing issues. The pre-trial conference takes place before a judge, who may provide their opinion on the case (which can be very helpful in resolving the case without the need for a trial).  


Trial 

Most personal injury claims settle without a trial. However, in some cases, a trial is necessary to get full and fair compensation. Personal injury trials are decided by a judge or by a jury after hearing all of the evidence presented in court. You will have to testify in court, and you will call witnesses that likely included your doctors, health care providers, employer, and family/friends. It is also very common to call evidence from expert witnesses to help the judge or jury decide issues such as liability or the nature and cause of your injuries.     


GET TRUSTED LEGAL ADVICE FROM A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER  

Sault Ste. Marie personal injury lawyers at Feifel Gualazzi can help if you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident and have suffered injuries. You don’t have to navigate the process alone.  


Our law firm specializes in personal injury claims and our experienced personal injury lawyers are committed to providing customized support to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. If you want to find out if you have a case, please either contact our Sault Ste. Marie office or submit this online form for a free consultation.  

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