You were injured in a car accident — now what?
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may consider speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible. By consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer, you will learn more about your rights, the merits of your claim, and your ability to receive fair compensation for your injuries, says Settlement Lenders President Larry Herscu.
Finding a lawyer
The Law Society of Alberta (LSA), the self-regulating body for lawyers in the province, has lots of information and resources on its website. The LSA offers a Lawyer Referral Program which connects you with a lawyer. You can provide them with details about your accident, and the customer service team will provide contact information for up to three lawyers that may help meet your needs. You can speak to one, two, or all three of the lawyers, and the first half-hour of conversation with the lawyer is free. You should use this time to discuss your legal issues, explore your options, evaluate potential costs, and help determine if the lawyer is a good fit for your legal issue.
Outside of these options, Google — and Google reviews — is another place to go for prospective lawyers. Cross-reference your search engine results by visiting lawyers’ websites: do they handle cases that sound like yours? Do they have testimonials from former clients? Are they in good standing with the LSA?
Once you contact a law firm or lawyer, your next step is a consultation. This meeting, usually free of charge, is a chance to discuss your accident and injuries, explore your legal options, and evaluate potential settlement/awards.
“The firm may provide you with a checklist to prepare for this consultation. You should bring all the important documentation related to your accident,” Herscu says. “Notes with important dates or photos of the accident or your injuries will help the personal injury lawyer evaluate your claim. “
The consultation is also an opportunity for you to ask questions to determine if the lawyer is a good fit. The LSA has a list of 12 questions to ask before hiring a lawyer, including:
- How many matters like mine have you handled before?
- How much of your practice is devoted to my particular problem area?
- How quickly can I expect a resolution?
- How do you charge for your services?
- How much will your services cost me in total?
- Do you provide your clients with a detailed written statement of fees?
“Easy Legal can help by providing a personal injury plaintiff a small advance against their future settlement to help them reduce their stress, manage their day-to-day living expenses and cover medical rehabilitation while they’re waiting.”
If you and a prospective lawyer agree to move forward together, you will be asked to sign a retainer agreement, which is a contract that outlines things like what services your lawyer will provide, how the services will be billed and the fee structure.
If you cannot work due to your injuries, you may be concerned about paying for a personal injury lawyer. However, many lawyers do not need to be paid in advance in cases involving accident or injury claims because they work on a contingency fee.
This means that they are paid a percentage of your final settlement or court award. In addition, your case may involve disbursements, which are other expenses like couriers, court filing fees, and expert reports. Therefore, the retainer agreement should also address how and when these expenses will be paid.
Financial support while you wait for a settlement
Many personal injury plaintiffs do not realize how long it can take to negotiate a settlement with their insurance company or go through the court process. It may take several years — or longer, thanks to COVID-related backlogs — for your claim to make its way through the court system. This financial pressure only mounts when plaintiffs are unable to work because of injuries, Herscu says.
Many turn to third-party lenders for settlement loans to get them through the tough times while they wait for their litigation to be concluded. Settlement Lenders offers financial support to people who have been hurt in an accident to help them pay bills while their lawyer fights for a settlement. We speak with your lawyer and review your case to assess your application.
“Easy Legal can help by providing a personal injury plaintiff a small advance against their future settlement to help them reduce their stress, manage their day-to-day living expenses and cover medical rehabilitation while they’re waiting,” Herscu says.
Larry Herscu is President of Settlement Lenders, a specialty lender focused on providing credit solutions to the legal sector, including its clients and service providers.