Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is It So Difficult To Value A Case Soon After The Accident Has Happened?

Until the doctors give us your prognosis or prediction about you or your family member’s future disability, we are unable to provide you with specifics about the amount of compensation you can receive. Generally, your health care provider(s) will not be able to give a prognosis until you have reached maximum medical recovery, which is another way of saying, “until you get as good as you are going to get”.

Not until you reach maximum medical recovery will we know the extent to which residual functional loss will affect your ability to do the things which formerly gave your life rich meaning.

What Will Happen During The First Meeting?

Often, it will take place on the telephone when you need advice quickly before an office appointment can be arranged. Whether you meet with us in person or by phone, you will generally have two contacts with our office: the first with one of our paralegal team members who will record some background details about your claim, and the second with a lawyer so that you may ask questions and be given legal advice.

At your first office meeting, be prepared to answer what may seem like an unending stream of questions. This initial information gathering will help our team understand how you were injured, who was involved, and when and where it happened. As we dig deeper into the specifics of your case, you will be given an opportunity to discuss how your life has changed since your accident and how your injuries have affected your work, leisure, recreation, family life and community involvement.

At the end of your meeting, the lawyer will attempt to give you a preliminary opinion of whether you have a case and what, if any, potential obstacles exist if you were to go ahead with the case. We will also be sure to have a clear and frank discussion about the anticipated costs associated with bringing a personal injury action on your behalf.

If after meeting with us you should decide not to retain our services, or if for some reason we are not prepared to take you on as a client, you will not be given a bill for that meeting.

What Are The Costs?

At Ashley Gnyś Personal Injury Law we will ensure that you understand the entire personal injury process and the associated costs involved in preparing your insurance claim and getting you the settlement you deserve.

Costs and expenses of a personal injury lawsuit are broken down into two main categories: the fees you pay your lawyer, and the costs of investigating and pursuing your case, known as “disbursements,” which are paid out of pocket as the case goes along.

The first type of expense is the legal fee, typically charged as a percentage of the compensation that is recovered for you, which is called a contingency fee. The actual percentage charged does vary depending on the circumstances of your case, but before your case begins, we will give you an idea what the range is for the percentage that will be charged. We can also charge you on an hourly basis, and we will make that decision together if/when you become a client of our law firm.

While fees can be charged on a contingency basis (meaning that if you win, we as your lawyers win, but if you lose, we also lose), disbursements remain your sole responsibility to pay. You may be required to assist in paying the disbursements incurred from time to time, as your case proceeds. If you cannot pay your retainer in full, a payment schedule can be set up and in some cases, we can arrange for a litigation loan to finance your lawsuit. In some cases, the retainer can be waived entirely.

Disbursement expenses can accrue through any/all of the following:

  • Obtaining motor vehicle accident reports.
  • Acquiring medical documents such as ambulance and hospital records.
  • Obtaining expert opinions including medical legal reports.
  • Court costs incurred when the defendant(s) is sued by the issuing of a statement of claim or court documents are filed.

Fortunately, when we are dealing with an insurance company that represents the party you are suing, it is common that repayment of expenses incurred in developing your case will be paid by the insurer. In a successful case, the majority of these disbursements will be recovered from the insurance company at the time your case is settled.

Additionally, lawyers have to charge 13% HST, which is applied to their fees and to certain disbursements.

The information provided here is meant only to be a brief description of the expenses associated with a lawsuit. A longer, more detailed version of expected expenses will be fully provided to you via a Contingency Fee Retainer, which is explained to you when you become a client of our law firm. We offer a free initial consultation to review your case and to explain the process and costs associated with a personal injury claim.

Please contact us today to schedule an appointment.

What Is A Contingency Fee Agreement?

The cost of going to court has skyrocketed, making access to justice seem unattainable for all except the very rich.

At Ashley Gnyś Personal Injury Law, our goal is to provide access to justice to all those who are aggrieved, injured and afflicted, and therefore, we often operate on the basis of a Contingency Fee Agreement.

A Contingency Fee Agreement means that we will wait to get paid until after your case is settled. If your case is lost, you do not pay us anything.

By taking cases on the basis of a contingency fee, we enable injured victims and their families to have access to justice. No matter the cost, we are determined to fight for our clients to see that justice is done. Most cases handled by our firm are accepted on a contingency fee.

Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

What Are The Personal Lawsuit Limitation Dates?

As an accident victim, you need to know how long you have to sue, because after that date, if you do not sue, you can’t. This is known as the limitation date.

An Ontario statute called the Limitations Act, 2002, states that you must issue a statement of claim suing the defendant(s) that caused your injuries within two years from the date you knew or ought to have known you had cause to do so. This applies to adults whose accident occurred on or after January 1, 2004. An injured child has two years from his or her 18th birthday to start a legal action. In most cases, the date you knew or ought to have known you have a cause of action is 2 years from the date your accident occurred.

However, there may be shorter time limits for starting actions. Certain government-related defendants, for example, must have notice of your intention to start a lawsuit within days of the accident. The form of the notice should be in writing and contain certain particulars such as the where, when and how of the injury and how you as the injured party can be contacted, particulars for the injured party, and the extent of your injuries. It must also be delivered to a specific party or entity and proper proof of delivery must be obtained.

Failure to provide a required notice can reduce the value of your claim and, in extreme cases, eliminate your recovery altogether. For example, if you slipped on a city sidewalk and plan to sue a city or a municipality, the law requires that you give written notice to that city or municipality within 10 days from the date of the accident. Then, after you’ve given your 10 days written notice, you will have 2 years from the date of the accident to sue.

So, in summary: to ensure that the proper notice is given, do not to wait to contact us after your accident. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that something will go wrong with your case. Even if you do not miss the limitation date, important evidence necessary for proving your case could be lost or destroyed. We have seen cases where the accident scene has changed—potholes repaired, cracks in sidewalks patched—before effective photographs could be taken because the accident victim waited too long to report the accident.

We recommend that you report your accidents immediately and that you do your own detective work right away to prevent important evidence from becoming lost.

What Should I Do If I Miss The Limitation Period For Suing?

There isn’t much that we as your lawyers can do to alter the limitation periods set out in the statute aside from trying to present your case in such a way as to show that your claim was in fact commenced within the limitation period.

If you try to sue beyond the limitation period stated in the Limitations Act of Ontario, the insurer will likely bring a motion before the Court to seek a Judge’s permission to have your claim dismissed for being brought outside of the limitation period. If the insurer’s motion is successful, your claim will be struck and you may have to pay the insurer’s legal costs for striking your claim.

Sometimes, limitation dates affect accident victims’ right to sue in different ways. For example, children face a different limitation period than adults do.

This is the most important thing to remember: mere ignorance of a limitation period is not an excuse. So, the first thing you need to do when you have had an accident is to call our office immediately. Tell us the facts of your case, and we will tell you how long you have to sue. If it appears you have missed the limitation date, we will explain to you what possible exceptions might apply to your case to maintain your right to sue.

My Injury Involves A Friend, Neighbour, Or Relative. How Will Suing Affect Them?

First of all, to be able to bring a tort action against anyone, whether it is against someone you know or a total stranger, you have to sustain serious injuries or disfigurement of a permanent nature. If your injuries are less serious than this, you do not need to claim beyond the “no-fault” scheme.

You do not actually sue your friend/neighbour/relative personally, so long as they have a valid policy of automobile insurance at the time of the motor vehicle accident. In that case, their insurance company will appoint a defence lawyer for them. And, as long as your claim is less than their policy limit, it will not be your friend/neighbour/relative that pays when a settlement is reached. Rather, your damages will be reimbursed by the insurance company. Your lawyer will be responsible for the settlement of your case so that your relationship with the other party may continue undisturbed.

Can One Lawyer Represent Several Victims Of The Same Accident?

Yes, sometimes a lawyer can represent more than one person with injuries arising from the same accident, particularly when there is no conflict in doing so. For example, say you are a passenger in a car driven by someone who collided with another vehicle. Let’s assume that only the other driver was at fault for the accident. In this case, it would be suitable for us to act on behalf of both you and your driver, or for several passengers injured in the same vehicle.

On the other hand, if both your driver and the other driver share fault for the collision and both you and your driver are injured, we as your lawyer should not represent both you and your driver.

There can be several significant advantages to two or more persons injured in the same accident retaining the same lawyer. An obvious advantage is reduced cost. If the expenses associated with an investigation and the hiring of liability experts are divided among a number of individuals, the cost for each person is going to be less. Another not-so-obvious advantage is the ease and speed with which each case can move through the judicial system. All claims can be started at the same time; important events like examinations for discovery, settlement conferences, mediations and pre-trial conferences can be scheduled much more quickly; and if any of the cases fall into that small minority of cases that proceed to trial, the trials can be scheduled much faster and be concluded sooner.

Another instance where the same lawyer should not represent more than one individual is where the combined claims of several injured individuals exceeds the limits of an insurance policy available, placing the injured individuals at risk of not being compensated fully for their injuries and losses. In these cases, when each individual stands to receive less than 100 cents on the dollar for their losses, a lawyer should only represent one injured individual. One exception to this is when the injured individuals are family members who, understanding there is limited insurance such that each family member may not be fully compensated for his or her losses, nonetheless agree to hire the same lawyer.

How can injured individuals know whether a proposed defendant has available sufficient policy limits to respond to the value of their claim? In Ontario, any defendant has to disclose details of all insurance policies that respond to the claims of the injured individuals, indicating the monetary limits available under those policy/policies of insurance.

In summary, there may be powerful benefits to retaining a lawyer that is representing other individuals hurt in the same incident, and we can help you decide if doing so makes sense in your situation

How Much is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?

Every case is different. In personal injury cases, you are entitled to compensation for such things as pain and suffering (past and future); lost wages and ability to earn income (past and future); medical and rehabilitation expenses (past and future); disfigurement; disability, and loss of enjoyment of life (past and future).

In order to evaluate your personal injury claim, we will have to speak with you and ask you some questions. ​

Will I Have to Go to Court?

The vast majority of cases (about 90% to 95%) settle out of court, and so you probably will not be required to attend a trial. Settlements are often achieved through settlement conferences and mediation.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a settlement conference, where all parties and their lawyers meet in a conference room to attempt to negotiate a settlement. At mediation, your lawyer will make a brief presentation discussing your side of the case with the mediator (usually a retired lawyer or a judge) and, of course, with the lawyer for the other side and his or her representative (usually the insurance company adjuster). The lawyer for the other side will then make a brief presentation about their side of the case. You are required to attend mediation, but you are not required to say anything or to settle.

Do I have to accept what the insurance company offers me for my injury claim?

It is in the best interest of the insurance company to settle the claim as quickly as possible. By accepting an offer from the insurance company the case is considered closed and you run the risk of releasing them from paying what you fully deserve.

Before agreeing to settle your claim, you should always speak to a lawyer and make sure that you are adequately informed of your rights.

What does no-fault insurance actually mean?

The term no-fault insurance can be misleading and is often interpreted to mean that no one is at fault for the accident. In actuality, there is always someone determined to be “at-fault” in an accident.

The no fault insurance more accurately means that if you are injured or your car is damaged in an accident regardless of who is at fault, drivers always file their claim with their own insurance company.

The other driver in the accident does not have insurance. What does this mean for me?

In the province of Ontario, those hurt by uninsured motorists may be entitled to compensation by their own insurance company under “uninsured motorist coverage.”

Can I get help paying my bills if I can’t work since my accident?

If you have sustained an injury and cannot work, it is important that you focus on your recovery. There are options to assist financially.

  • You may be entitled to Income Replacement Benefits from your insurance company
  • You may be entitled to short-term or long-term disability benefits through your employer.
  • Speak to your Human Resources department to find out what you are entitled to under your plan.
  • You may be entitled to Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) or Ontario Disability Savings Plan (ODSP) benefits

Speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer like Ashley Gnyś to ensure you are getting all the assistance that is available to you.

Can You Help Me If I Am Injured in An Accident in the U.S.?

Yes we can help you. Our proximity to the United States and our experience in all types of personal injury litigation will help you navigate the complexities of cross-border litigation. We will be able to take care of your needs in Canada with your own insurance company while working with one of our U.S. partners to help get you the compensation that you deserve.

If An American Citizen is Injured in Ontario, Can You Help Them?

Yes we can. If you are the injured party we will be able to work with you and in conjunction with your U.S. legal representative to help you understand the Canadian legal system, including the “No Fault” insurance system. We will be able to pursue your claim in Canada and help you throughout the duration of your claim and ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve. If you do not already have legal counsel of your own in the United States, we will be able to assist you by providing you with information to help you select a U.S. attorney.

How and when should I talk to the insurance company?

When you are claiming accident benefits, you need to notify the accident benefits insurer and provide information in support of your claim. In most cases, your insurance company will send an insurance adjuster to meet with you and talk about the accident and your injuries. Here are some important points to remember:

Be aware that anything you say to the insurance adjuster will go into your file and can affect your future accident benefit and tort claims. Only talk to the adjuster when you are medically able.

Get legal advice and know your rights before meeting with the adjuster. Why? Insurance companies deal with cases like yours all the time. This is likely your first time dealing with an adjuster. Keep the playing field level by knowing your rights.

You have no obligation to speak to an adjuster from the insurance company of the at-fault person. However if you choose to, we recommend that you speak to a lawyer first.

What if I was driving my car without car insurance and was involved in an accident?

What if I was driving my car without car insurance and was involved in an accident?
You cannot pursue a claim against any at-fault driver if you were knowingly driving your car without car insurance.

However, you remain entitled to claim medical, rehabilitation, attendant care benefits.

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