Personal Injury Law in Ontario

Falling under Tort Law, Personal Injury Law under the Canadian Legal system includes any suing for damages if an individual meets with any physical or psychological injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence and through no fault of their own.

For instance, if you find yourself the victim of a car accident which results in a brain injury or if you slipped and fell on an icy driveway on someone’s property and broke your leg, that would qualify you for a claim under the Personal Injury Law.

If you find yourself facing a situation like this and you’re unsure of what steps to take and what your rights are, the best thing to do is contact a personal injury lawyer. They’ll be able to provide you with clear guidelines on what you can do and what you can sue for.

Many personal injury lawyer work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they will only get paid if your case reaches a settlement or get paid a percentage (on average anywhere from fifteen to fifty per cent) of whatever you get. So more often than not, you have nothing to lose by contacting a lawyer, discussing your case and asking questions. Keep in mind, in Ontario you have two years to file a claim from when an accident took place, there are of course exceptions to this, for example in sexual assault cases or when children are the injured party.

Because every case is unique it is difficult to determine exactly what an individual may be entitled to if they sue for personal injury, however, some common compensation that individuals filing a claim seek are:

  • Monetary Compensation for loss of earnings if the injury incurred results in the individual being unable to work for a period of time. In some cases, individuals can even sue for potential future earnings. For example, if a world famous violinist loses an arm in an accident and can no longer perform; they can sue for the income they would have generated for years to come had they not suffered the loss of their arm and thus lost the ability to generate income.
  • Compensation for the pain and suffering the individual has gone through and continues to go through as a result of the injury. This can also include the pain and suffering an individual or family goes through in the event someone dies because of the injury or event. For instance, a drunken hit and run where one of the two occupants in the car dies. The maximum amount which can be awarded for pain and suffering in Canada is approximately $360,000.00.
  • Reimbursement of legal, health-care fees and other out of pocket expenses. The individual can seek financial damages for any injury related expenses.

Steps to follow for a personal injury claim:

So you’ve gone through a traumatic event and after much deliberation and consideration, you’ve decided to sue the offending party. What are the steps you need to follow and what can you expect through the process?

In Ontario, if you decide to file a claim for personal injury, the lawyer will first notify the defendant (the individual responsible for your injury or their insurance company). Depending on the situation, insurance companies prefer to settle out of court as the compensation can be much more substantial if they lose their case in court.

If you, your lawyer and the defendant are unable to agree on a fair settlement, your lawyer will start preparing for a lawsuit and both sides will have prepare the appropriate documentations, medical evidence and discovery in order to prove their version of events.

Even if a lawsuit is in progress, the insurance company and the individual can decide to settle the case through mediation at any given time.

Prior to the trial officially beginning, a pre-trial will be scheduled where the Judge can hear the details of the case and offer opinions and advice on the strength or validity of the case to both parties. More often than not, personal injury lawsuits in Ontario are settled right before or after the pre-trial and the case does not end up going to trial. In cases where the lawsuit is settled in court, the losing party has the option of appealing the decision with the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

The length of time to settle a case from start to finish varies from case to case and is unique to each individual but they can last anywhere from a few months (if the defendant or insurance company settles quickly) to several years.