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Questions You Need to Ask Before Hiring an Injury Lawyer

— January 25, 2022

The burning question in every claimant’s mind is how much compensation they can expect from the opposing party.

While many people rely on recommendations from friends, family members, and acquaintances to find a reliable lawyer, it’s important that you screen them yourself during your initial 1-on-1 meeting. After all, there are endless types of personal injuries and each case is unique. Perhaps the personal injury lawyer that a friend recommends has expertise with slip and fall cases but doesn’t excel as well or have any noteworthy experience with spinal cord injury cases. Whatever the situation, here are a few questions worth asking your personal injury lawyer in Ontario before entrusting them with your case. The majority of these questions can be adjusted to ask the personal injury lawyer in your specific location if you are not from Ontario.

  1. Do you work with a contingency fee?

The majority of lawyers typically charge either an hourly fee or a contingency fee. Typically, claimants prefer the latter approach since it means the lawyer will only take a percentage at the end when the case is settled as payment. That amount is commonly taken out of the final settlement amount that you acquire. This is mutually beneficial since the lawyer will have a greater incentive to swiftly and efficiently settle your case and you will only provide them with compensation if the case is won.

  1. What practice areas are your expertise?

As mentioned before, personal injury is a broad understanding and it entails anything from dog bite injuries to permanent paralysis on the personal injury spectrum. You may encounter a lawyer who has a little bit of experience with several types of personal injuries or one who concentrates on a select few types. It’s important to ask them which practice areas they cover and then focus on the one relating to your case to understand the experience they have with that area, including how they handled previous similar cases. 

Here is a list of the most common personal injuries that you can expect the lawyer to have expertise in:

  • Dog bite 
  • Long-term injury claims
  • Brain, spinal cord…etc. 
  • Pension claims 
  • Slip and fall
  • Medical misconduct
  • Sexual and physical offense
  • Car accident
  • And more
  1. What can I expect if my case is taken to court in Ontario?

    Image by Wannapik Studios.
    Image by Wannapik Studios.

While most cases are settled within a few months or years at most, some parties do not reach a mutual settlement and the case gets taken to court. Your case is not exempt from that possibility. Always ask if the personal injury lawyer and the firm they are backed by (if applicable) supports taking the case to trial afterward. An injury lawyer in Ontario should be aware of local protocol and how to initiate the proper processes when being informed that the case will be taken to court. Additionally, you can ask how they plan to undertake your case in a way that will avoid it going to trial. Although that is not entirely up to the claimant’s side, it’s important to understand your lawyer’s expectations for the case including timelines and action plans. 

  1. What timeframe can I expect my case to be settled in based on average durations in Ontario?

The shortest time frame that a personal injury case can be settled is a few weeks to a month. On average, personal injury cases are settled anytime between a few months to 1-2 years. If the case is not settled during that time frame, it will be taken to trial. While your opponent may be building a stronger case or insufficient evidence may prolong the duration of the case, it’s recommended to ask the lawyer about their expectations for the duration of the case. Perhaps another lawyer has a quicker action plan for you that will be more effective. 

  1. How much settlement can I expect realistically?

The burning question in every claimant’s mind is how much compensation they can expect from the opposing party. Your lawyer won’t be able to give you a fixed number since every case is unique, but they should be able to inform you about realistic expectations and ranges. That approximate figure is based on previous cases similar to yours and how much such cases are granted based on local law. This way, you will be able to navigate how much your case is worth and whether or not the costs associated with hiring a lawyer to undertake the case are beneficial to you. There are cases that earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation, but you need to be able to understand how strong of a case your opponent may be building against you. 

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