No, your initial telephone or email consultation is always free. If you are contacting us about an injury claim, an insurance issue, or another personal-injury related matter, your initial meeting with one of our lawyers will also be free.
For some other types of issues, like wills & estates or business law, there may be a fee for your initial meeting with your lawyer. You can get more information about the specific fees expected in your case during your free initial telephone consultation.
In medical malpractice cases, a lot will turn on whether or not we can prove that a healthcare professional failed to meet the standard of care expected of him or her. This is as much a medical question as it is a legal question, so we need to hire medical and other experts to help us answer it. Hiring private experts can be expensive, and this expense will be a disbursement on your file. It’s important for you to understand the potential major expenses on your file before you make any decisions about starting a lawsuit, so this is something that will be discussed in detail during your free initial 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.
It is often especially difficult to figure out when the “limitation period” is in medical malpractice cases, since often you couldn’t have known of a healthcare professional’s error until well after it occurred. A principle called “discoverability” protects patients in some cases to extend the limitation period, but figuring out when a claim was “discoverable” is a complex question. It’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice cases right away if you believe you might have a claim, so that they can help you determine when the limitation period in your case is.
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.