Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Don't Let Fear Stop You from Making a Personal Injury Claim

We have all seen the big Hollywood legal movies where there is a dramatic courtroom battle and witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants give their testimony and are grilled by lawyers and admonished by judges.  One of the best films that portray this is The Rainmaker, based on the John Grisham novel of the same name.

Going to court is something few people relish. Indeed, the belief that they will have to go to trial and the fear of having to sit in a courtroom is one of the main reasons people entitled to personal injury compensation don’t make a claim. But the reality is that the vast majority of personal injury cases settle out of court.  Over my 35 year legal career and the hundreds of cases I have litigated, only a small handful have made their way to a court trial and verdict.

Why is that?

If a case has merit and is without substantial controversy, and is prepared well, insurance companies will generally prefer to settle your case than pay their lawyer tens of thousands of dollars to fight you and go before a jury.  Frankly they would rather save those considerable legal fees and add them to your settlement to get rid of your case and gain certainty as to the result, rather than rolling the dice and leaving it up to a jury, where emotions can be a deciding factor.

The kinds of cases that do tend to go to trial are those where liability is up for debate or where more than one party is responsible and no one can agree on the apportionment of fault. Cases that contain speculative income loss claims also tend to be resisted by insurers or claims that are not supported by the evidence.  Where Plaintiffs presenting their claims are not believable or grossly exaggerate their loss, or where our client is not likeable in presentation, those cases stand a much a greater likelihood of going to trial.

So, if you are a level-headed individual, listen to and follow legal and medical advice given to you, and try your best to get on with life, your case stands an excellent chance of settling upon terms that you will be satisfied with. While some insurance companies can be difficult to deal with and can have a reputation of being unrealistic in assessing your case, for the most part, the single biggest determinant of whether your case proceeds to trial or not will generally is up to you, the client.

Along the way, there are a number of initiatives that will assist with settling your case.  Those include events like settlement conferences, mediations and pre-trials, all of which add to the likelihood that your case will never darken the hallways of your local court house. But whatever the options may be, and whatever course of action is required, fear should not be a factor. President John F. Kennedy once said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear.  But let us never fear to negotiate.”

Since 1979, I have litigated cases in many different communities across Ontario, all the way up to the Ontario Court of Appeal.  Over the past 35 years, I have lost cases I should have won and I have won cases I should have lost.  But I assure you, trial is always a last resort and we will not take unnecessary chances with your financial well being or your future.  If you have to go to court, Sharpe, Beresh & Gnys will be there every step of the way.  "We are in this together".

Friday, April 11, 2014

Can I Afford to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Help Me?.

It always saddens me to meet an accident victim who has a diminished quality of life due to injuries that they received months or years prior, but took no immediate action around the time of the accident to deal with their situation or to contact a lawyer. In some instances, they just were not able to afford continued treatment of their injuries, or their insurance company just did not provide them with the necessary guidance and financial resources to help them get back on their feet. When they finally discuss their case with me, and I ask why they did not contact me sooner, I am often told --- " I was not sure I could afford to hire a lawyer to help me".

If you have a good injury claim, you can absolutely afford to hire a lawyer.  Here is why.

If the accident was not your fault and, assuming there is insurance coverage available, provided your injuries are serious and you have suffered functional loss, we will be prepared to accept you as a client of the firm by way of contingency retainer.  What that means is that we will take a percentage of your settlement for our fees when your case settles.  That way, if you win, we win and if you lose, we lose. 

You will not be required to pay any money up front for our legal fees.  We will get paid when you get paid and so, we share the risk and the reward with you. In effect, we are in this together.

And by the way, if we take you on as a client under this arrangement, that is our endorsement of the strength and merits of your case. After all, if we guess wrong and your case does not settle, we won’t get paid and if we do that enough, we would not be in business for very long.
I have been doing personal injury law since 1979 and suffice it to say, I do not often get beat at what I do.  And our firm has been around much longer than I have – since 1894. 

In summary, if you have a good personal injury case, we will provide you with access to an experienced trial lawyer who will be on your side, fighting for your rights and helping to level the playing field between you and the powerful insurance industry.
Give us a call and one of our team would be pleased to assess your case free and without obligation.  Or if you would prefer, visit our website at sbglawfirm.com and complete a short "case evaluation" questionnaire, and we will get back to you with our free assessment.