Click here to download our free car accident checklist – 10 simple steps to help you ensure your rights are protected after an accident.
It’s important for you to understand how your lawyer will be paid. During your initial consultation, we will speak with you in detail about how our legal fees and expenses will work in your specific case so that you understand all your options before deciding if and how you would like to proceed.
Lawyers usually charge fees in one of three ways:
- A contingency fee is usually used in personal injury and insurance litigation. Under a contingency fee, you do not pay your lawyer’s fees until the end of your case, and the fee depends on the result obtained in your case. Typically, the lawyer’s fee will be a fixed percentage of any amount recovered on your behalf. This means that if nothing is recovered, the lawyer will not charge you a fee. In this way, the risk of litigation can be shared between the client and the lawyer.
When you see headlines in advertising such as “no win, no fee” or “you don’t pay unless we win,” a contingency fee arrangement is what is being referred to. But these headlines can be misleading: what counts as a “win?” Do expenses still have to be paid? How is the fee calculated? We believe it’s important that you understand exactly what a contingency fee is, and what it is not.
- In most other cases, where a contingency fee is not available, lawyers will charge an hourly rate. When charging on an hourly basis, the lawyer and his or her staff bill you at a set hourly rate for all the time they spend working on your file. Hourly rates are used in most non-litigation work, including real estate, estate planning, corporate and commercial transactions, business law, family law, etc. Hourly rates may also be charged in litigation cases where a contingency fee is not feasible.
- A final option is a flat rate fee, which is only used for routine legal services such as notarizing a document or drafting a simple will or power of attorney.
In addition to fees, lawyers will charge for the disbursements they have to incur when working on your file. Disbursements are expenses that must be paid for over the course of your case and include things like paying court fees, paying doctors for copies of their records or for medical opinions, paying for administrative expenses such as photocopying, couriers and long distance calls, and so on. Disbursements are separate from the lawyer’s fee for the services they provide.
To find out more about the legal fees and expenses that would apply in your case, get in touch with us to arrange a consultation.
Limitation periods restrict how long a person has to start a lawsuit for most types of lawsuits in Ontario. In most (but not all) cases, a person has 2 years from the date of an injury or loss to start a lawsuit against someone. If someone does not start a lawsuit before the limitation date, in most cases they are unable to ever do so – even if they had no idea a limitation period existed.
Sometimes it is tricky to determine a precise limitation date, particularly if your injuries weren’t (and could not have been) clear right away, or if the incidents that caused your injuries took place over an extended period.
Since the consequences of missing a limitation period are so serious, it is important that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after you have suffered a loss so that he or she can tell you what limitation period applies. Even if you think you might have already missed the limitation period, you should speak with a lawyer to confirm, since there are sometimes exceptions and ways around the deadline that could save your claim.
In some cases, in addition to a limitation period, you need to worry about a notice period. This is a period of time within which you need to warn the defendant that you are going to sue them in the future. They usually apply when governments are the defendants.
Notice periods are usually much shorter than limitation periods – for example, in most cases you only have 10 days to warn a municipality if you are going to sue it for a dangerous condition on a sidewalk.
Missing a notice period without a very good reason can prevent you from starting your case at all, so again – make sure you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure no time limits are missed.
The vast majority of lawsuits in Ontario settle before they go to court. A settlement is where both sides in the lawsuit voluntarily agree to a compromise in order to resolve a dispute without the costs, risks and delays that come with taking a case to court. If your case is settled, the defendant will agree to pay you some amount of money for your damages, and in exchange, you will agree to drop your lawsuit.
While you won’t have to go to court if a case settles, there are other preliminary stages your case might go through that you will have to participate in.
A settlement has to be voluntary for both sides, and we can't force a defendant to settle. Even if a defendant makes an offer to settle, if the offer doesn’t adequately compensate you for your losses, it may be our advice that you not settle your case.
If a case does not settle, you can go to court to have a judge or jury make a final decision. Going to court increases the costs and risks in your case, but sometimes, where a reasonable settlement is not possible, it is the only way to reach a fair outcome.
We will be there to advise you and represent your interests throughout any settlement negotiations, and throughout a court case if one is necessary. In all cases, the decision about whether to settle your case or to take it to court will be yours to make.
You do not have to settle with your insurance company. Depending on the money being offered, however, settlement may be in your best interest. You need to consider such things as future medical expenses, lost wages, and potential health complications. Do not settle with an insurance company until you have spoken to a lawyer.