Choosing a Lawyer

Choosing a lawyer after a serious injury can be a difficult and daunting decision. Some of the questions that should be asked of any lawyer who wants to represent you or your loved one before you make your selection are:

FAQs

How is the lawyer going to charge you legal fees?

In Ontario there are two ways a lawyer can charge you.

  • Time based fees – Fees are based on the time spent by the lawyer and are generally billed on an hourly rate. Payment is required on a regular basis. Fees charged by the lawyer are not dependent on the result obtained for the client.
  • Contingency fees – The fees charged by the lawyer are a percentage of the amount recovered for the client. No fees are charged until the client’s action is resolved.

FMT llp charges legal fees for personal injury matters on a contingency basis. No amount is paid for legal fees until your case resolves. If there is no recovery, no legal fees are owed. In most cases the party responsible for the injury pays a significant portion of the legal fees.

How is the lawyer going to charge you for disbursements?

Disbursements include any amounts paid by a lawyer to third parties for things such as medical assessments, expert witnesses, investigators, accountants, medical records, and court fees. Some lawyers require a client to pay for disbursements up-front or on an on-going basis.

FMT llp only charges for disbursements after your case has resolved. In most cases the party responsible for the injury pays for a significant portion of the disbursements.

Does the lawyer have sufficient financial resources to finance your case to conclusion?

Litigating serious personal injury claims requires a large financial commitment from the law firm. To take a significant case to trial can cost the law firm in excess of $100,000. A law firm must have sufficient financial resources to see a case through trial, so that the final decision as to whether to take your case to trial is based on the clients best interests not the financial solvency of the lawyer.

FMT llp has sufficient finances resources to finance your case as long as it takes to have the case resolved.

How long will it take to get your case resolved?

No one can predict the future with precision. Beware of any lawyer that promises to have your case resolved quickly. Typically it takes any significant injury at least two years to recover to a point that medical doctors can assess how the injury will react into the future.

At FMT llp our primary concern is that you do not get undercompensated. We will not recommend resolution of your matter until we are confident, with the assistance of medical professionals, that your condition will not deteriorate. It is our belief that your case is worth the most when it is ready for trial. Our objective is to get the case ready for trial as quickly as possible so the best possible resolution can be obtained.

Does the lawyer have sufficient staff and technical support to conduct your case?

Personal injury litigation requires a significant time investment to prepare a case for resolution. A lawyer who takes on a serious personal injury case must have an experienced team to support them to make sure that any accident benefits issues are dealt with efficiently, the appropriate medical records are requested and reviewed and the matter proceeds through the litigation process as quickly as possible.

FMT llp has a team of lawyers, law clerks and assistants who are all experienced in personal injury litigation and whose sole focus is to ensure the best result for you. In addition FMT llp has made a substantial investment in cutting edge information technology to assist in presenting your case in the most proficient and effective manner possible.

Has the lawyer taken cases like yours successfully to trial?

Trials are becoming increasingly rare in Ontario due to limited judicial resources and the increased cost of taking matters to trial. Ask any lawyer who wants to act on your behalf if he or she has taken cases like yours successfully to trial. Ask them if they will do the trial themselves or refer the case to another lawyer once it is ready for trial.

The lawyers at FMT llp have an enviable trial record. We do not refer out trials to other lawyers. You will know that the lawyer who has handled your case throughout and knows it best will be doing the trial.

Does the lawyer have a policy for communications with clients?

FMT llp takes its responsibility to keep you informed very seriously. We have a policy, that is strictly enforced, that you are always to be in the "loop". We return all phone calls expiditiously. We respond to e-mails and other forms of communication in a timely manner.

Does the lawyer give back to the community?

FMT llp takes its responsibility to the community seriously. Our firm is a supporter of the Canadian Spinal Research Organization in its work to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. The Falconeri Munro Tucci llp Centre for Spinal Trauma at Sunnybrook Hospital is providing leadership for research and treatment of spinal cord injuries. FMT llp is also supporter of the Brain Injury Association of Toronto and the Ontario Brain Injury Association.

The Litigation Process Explained

Time Limits

For most serious personal injuries a claimant has two years from the time when the injury occurred to commence an action against those responsible for the injuries. There are some situations where notice must be provided to a party within very short time periods. These time periods can be as short as 10 days. It is important to get legal advice as quickly as possible after an injury to ensure that none of the statutory limitation or notice periods are missed.

Investigation

Prior to commencing a lawsuit, an investigation must be undertaken to determine the correct parties, to obtain information from witnesses, to obtain medical information to assist in quantifying damages and to retain experts to help in proving who is responsible for the damages you or your loved one has sustained.

Pleadings

The Statement of Claim is the document that commences a lawsuit. It is your first chance to explain your case to the other side.

Claims for Damages

The Statement of Claim will set the various claims for different types of damages. These could include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Past loss of income
  • Loss of future income or earning capacity
  • Cost of Future care
  • Loss of household and home maintenance capacity
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Loss of care, guidance and companionship to your family members

Documentary Discovery

Each side of a lawsuit is required to provide the other side with copies of all the documents that are relevant to the issues between the parties. It is imperative that all documents are available from the other side to ensure that the oral discoveries are as productive as possible.

Oral Discovery

This is one of the most important stages of the litigation process. This is the opportunity for the lawyers to ask questions of the opposing parties to find out what information they have about the about the issues. It is important that you are well prepared before answering questions about your case.

Expert Witnesses

Throughout the litigation process you or your loved one will be sent to assessments by experienced medical professionals. These assessments help us to determine the value of the claim and convince the other side what the claim is worth. We also retain engineers, accountants and other experts to support your case as required.

Mediation

This is the best chance to resolve your case prior to trial. An experienced mediator will act as a third party intermediary between the parties to assist the parties in resolving the matter. We will not agree to mediate until your case is ready for trial. This is your one chance to speak directly to the representative of the insurance company that insures the party responsible for the accident.

Pre-Trial

At the pre-trial, a judge from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice will listen to presentations from both sides and read briefs from both sides and will provide an opinion as to what he or she would do if he or she was the trial judge. This can often facilitate further settlement discussions or narrow the issues before the trial begins.

Trial

This is your opportunity to tell your side of your case to a judge and/ or jury and ask them to justly compensate you or your loved one for the injuries and damages that they have suffered. Preparation for trial is an extensive process for your lawyers and for yourself. We will work with you to present your case in the best possible light.

Appeal

After the conclusion of a trial the losing party can appeal the decision to a higher court. This is usually to decide a question of law that is disputed.

Accident Benefits Available to You

Medical Rehabilitation Benefit

These benefits assist an injured party in paying for medical and rehabilitation treatment that is reasonable and necessary as a result of the accident. The Medical Benefits available include medical, surgical, dental, optometric, hospital, nursing, ambulance, audiometric, speech-therapy and physiotherapy. Services available include chiropractic, psychological, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Expenses for medication, dentures and dental devices, hearing aids, wheelchairs prostheses, orthotics and other assistive devices are covered. Transportation to and from treatment sessions in certain circumstances is also covered.

Attendant Care Benefit

This benefit provides payment for a person to look after the injured party if they require assistance with taking care of themselves. This amount can be paid to a family member who is looking after the injured party, a paid aide or attendant retained to look after the injured party or a long-term care facility where the injured party is staying. The amount of attendant care available and the length of time for which it is available is dependant on the severity of the injuries.

Lost Educational Expenses

If at the time of the accident the injured party was enrolled in school, a benefit is available to compensate for lost educational expenses including tuition, books, equipment or room and board.

Expenses of Visitors

This benefit pays reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by family member visiting the injured party during his or her treatment or recovery.

Housekeeping and Home Maintenance

The insurer is required to pay for housekeeping and home maintenance services if the injured party as a result of the accident is no longer able to perform the services that he or she normally performed before the accident. The amount available and the length of time for which this benefit is available is dependent on the severity of the injuries.

Damages to Clothing, Glasses, Hearing Aids, etc.

The insurer is required to pay for expenses in repairing or replacing any damaged clothing worn by the person at the time of the accident or any damaged prescription eyewear, dentures hearing aids, prostheses and other medical or dental devices that were lost or damaged as a result of the accident.

Death and Funeral Benefits

If a person dies as a result of the motor vehicle accident his spouse and his children are entitled to a death benefit and are to be paid the funeral expenses. The amount of these benefits depends on the type of insurance purchased by the deceased.

Real Estate Corporate & Estates Law - Tarion Warranty

Deposit Protection

The Tarion Warranty for deposit protection protects the deposit that a home buyer pays towards a new home to a maximum of a specific amount. For a freehold home, the deposit is protected for up to a maximum of $40,000 and up to $20,000 for condominium units. These portions of a purchaser’s deposit will be protected in the event that a builder goes bankrupt or if the builder fundamentally breaches the agreement for some other reason. Essentially, if the deposit is forfeited through no fault of the purchaser, it will likely be covered by Tarion.

Real Estate Corporate & Estates Law - HST and Rebates on New Homes, Renovations, and Rental Properties

Which homes or renovations are eligible for this rebate?

Events that would trigger eligibility for this rebate include:

  1. Building a home or contracting someone to build one.
  2. Buying a newly constructed or substantially renovated home from a builder.
  3. Buying a newly constructed house from a builder, where you lease the land from the builder under the same agreement to buy the house.
  4. Substantially renovating a home or building a major addition to one.
  5. Rebuilding a home destroyed by fire; or

Buying a share of the capital stock in a newly constructed cooperative housing project.