In some instances, for one reason or another, an accident victim may become dissatisfied with the services their personal injury lawyer is providing (or, in some cases, not providing) them.
In those situations, the accident victim can change their current personal injury lawyer. For that change to happen, the accident victim will need to notify both their current lawyer and their prospective lawyer about the anticipated change.
The accident victim will also typically need to confirm with the first lawyer (or vice-versa), in writing, that the representation is ending. The accident victim cannot sign a contingency fee agreement with a new lawyer until they end their relationship with the first lawyer.
The first lawyer will also typically need to forward all documentation about the case, including police reports, medical bills, medical treatment records, and other documents in the case file, to the new lawyer.
However, when a new lawyer takes over the handling of a personal injury case, it does not typically result in a new (or higher) contingency fee for the accident victim. For a new lawyer to enter an appearance in your case, you will typically need to sign their contingency fee agreement.
If you are dissatisfied with your current personal injury lawyer, and you want to find a new lawyer, it is best that you do so sooner rather than later. Specifically, if your case is too far into litigation, it may be difficult – or in some cases impossible – for a new lawyer to take over the handling of your case.
Additionally, if your case is already in the court system (i.e. in litigation), a court may need to approve the change. If your case is too close to trial, the court may prohibit a new lawyer from taking over your case.
Once a new Alberta personal injury lawyer begins handling your case, they can represent you during the remaining legal proceedings. For example, they can continue settlement negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf or conclude litigation in the court system.
Who do Personal Injury Lawyers Represent?
Personal injury lawyers represent individuals who suffered one or more injuries in an accident that resulted from another person’s negligence.
An individual or entity behaves negligently when they act unreasonably, given the prevailing facts and circumstances.
When individuals behave recklessly or carelessly, they may cause:
- Car and truck accidents
- Pedestrian accident
- Motorcycle and bicycle accidents
- Slip and falls and other premises accidents
In many instances, these accidents happen when drivers fail to follow standard traffic laws, such as by failing to yield the right-of-way, speeding, tailgating, or failing to use turn signals at the proper times.
They may also occur when people drive recklessly, carelessly, in a distracted manner, or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Slip and fall accidents may occur when property owners fail to maintain their premises reasonably, carefully, and safely.
For example, a property owner might fail to clean up a spill within a reasonable time, causing a property visitor to slip and fall on the premises.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area can handle any of these types of personal injury cases for you.
For example, your lawyer can investigate the circumstances leading up to your accident, file a claim with the appropriate insurance company on your behalf, or litigate your case to resolution at a civil jury trial or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceeding.
What Is a Negligence Claim?
Victims of serious accidents can file a negligence claim if they suffer injuries due to someone else’s careless or reckless behaviour.
To prevail in a personal injury claim based upon negligence, the accident victim must fully satisfy their legal burden of proof. However, the at-fault party does not have to satisfy any legal burden whatsoever in a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
First, the accident victim must establish that the other party owed them a legal duty of care under the circumstances. For example, in a premises accident scenario, a property owner typically has a duty to maintain their premises at all times and to warn about or repair known dangerous conditions which exist on their premises.
Next, the accident victim must establish that the at-fault party violated their legal duty in some way, shape, or form. For instance, in the case of a slip and fall accident, the property owner may not have cleaned up a spill or repaired some other defective condition on their property within a reasonable timeframe.
The accident victim must further demonstrate that as a direct result of the at-fault party’s inappropriate or reckless behaviour, the subject accident happened. Finally, the accident victim has to demonstrate that because of the accident, they suffered at least one physical injury.
A personal injury lawyer handling your case may satisfy this legal burden of proof by retaining one or more experts who can investigate your accident circumstances and reach an independent conclusion about how the accident happened – and who was responsible.
A certified accident reconstructionist, for example, may review incident reports, visit the accident scene, search for evidence, and draft a report about their findings and conclusions. An accident reconstructionist might also be able to testify at a discovery deposition or civil jury trial.
In addition to an accident reconstructionist, your lawyer may retain a medical expert who can causally relate your injuries to the accident. If you suffered a permanent injury in your accident that is unlikely to get better over time, your lawyer can state that fact on the record to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
Recoverable Monetary Damages in an Auto Accident Case Based Upon Negligence
In an auto accident due to someone else’s negligence, accident victims may be in a position to recover various monetary damages of varying amounts.
The total monetary compensation award that an accident victim receives, either through a favourable litigation result or settlement offer, will depend primarily upon the total cost of their medical treatment, the specific medical treatment that they underwent for their injuries, the amount of money they lost from not working, and the severity of their injuries.
First, accident victims can recover economic damages, including compensation for their lost earnings or loss of earning capacity. Additionally, they may pursue a claim for their intangible losses.
Those monetary damages compensate accident victims for their inconvenience, pain, suffering, mental anguish and distress, loss of spousal consortium, lost quality of life, loss of use of a body part, long-term care costs, permanent scarring, and permanent disfigurement or disability.
Your personal injury lawyer will know the tricks and tactics necessary to combat the insurance company and pursue the highest amount of monetary compensation available in your case. Your lawyer can also threaten the insurance company with litigation if they do not make you a fair and reasonable settlement offer.
How Can Your New Lawyer Help You with Your Personal Injury Case?
If you retain a new personal injury lawyer to represent you in your claim or lawsuit, that lawyer will take over wherever your first lawyer left off.
For example, if your previous lawyer already filed a lawsuit in the court system on your behalf, then your new lawyer will continue forward with the litigation process.
If your previous lawyer had not investigated your accident thoroughly, however, your new lawyer may begin with that part of the process.
If the new lawyer enters your case pre-suit, they can handle all written and oral communications with insurance company settlement adjusters. Adjusters are often difficult to work with, and they will do everything they possibly can to undervalue your personal injury case.
After all, insurance companies do not make money when they have to pay out large litigation verdicts or settlement offers. Therefore, the insurance company adjuster has every incentive to try and offer you as little monetary compensation as possible.
A good personal injury lawyer will know the tricks and tactics that insurance companies will likely use against you in your case. Your lawyer can highlight the various strengths of your case, such as your medical records that expert reports, while downplaying any potential weaknesses.
If the insurance company still does not make you a fair monetary settlement offer, then your lawyer may file a lawsuit and pursue litigation on your behalf.
During personal injury litigation, the parties to a case will take part in a process known as discovery. The discovery process typically consists of both written and oral discovery, including completion of written Interrogatories and attendance at discovery depositions.
Your lawyer can thoroughly prepare you for your discovery deposition so that you are aware of the types of questions a defence lawyer is likely to ask you about your case, your injuries, and your medical treatment. You should also be ready to testify about the effects of the accident on your overall life and well-being.
If the parties do not settle their case beforehand, they may take the case to a civil jury trial for a jury to decide the amount of monetary compensation to award the accident victim. As an alternative to a jury trial, the parties may pursue mediation or binding arbitration as a way to resolve their case out of court.
Your lawyer will explain your settlement and litigation options so that you can make an informed and intelligent decision about how best to move forward with your personal injury case.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Case Right Away
If you sustained injuries in an accident that resulted from another person or entity’s negligence, you want the best possible lawyer handling your case from start to finish.
Ideally, you want a lawyer on your side who handles personal injury cases as the majority of their practice and who has successfully settled and litigated personal injury claims in the past.
If you decide to retain a new personal injury lawyer to represent you in your case, then that lawyer can start where your previous lawyer left off.
A capable lawyer can thoroughly investigate your accident circumstances, confidently negotiate with insurance company adjusters, and aggressively litigate your case through the court system if that step becomes necessary.
Your lawyer’s primary goal will be to maximize the monetary compensation you receive so you become whole again after your accident.
Seek your free case evaluation today whether you want to hire an initial lawyer or change legal representation.