Everything that good lawyers for auto accidents should know

Learn more about the job of lawyers for auto accidents, such as the ways they can help clients in a personal injury case, and what to look for when hiring one

Everything that good lawyers for auto accidents should know
Lawyers for auto accidents can help clients in many ways

While car accidents are preventable, we can’t say that it won’t happen to us, our family or our friends. When an accident happens, it’s important to have the best legal representation through lawyers for auto accidents.

In this article, we’ll discuss what good lawyers for auto accidents do. This piece is written for lawyers hoping to get into this field of law, giving them a chance to think over whether they’d like to go in this direction. It’s also a client education piece, outlining what plaintiffs and defendants can expect when engaging a lawyer for car accidents, and could be sent to prospective clients.

What is the job of lawyers for auto accidents?

Lawyers for auto accidents assist clients – whether plaintiffs or defendants – in a personal injury case after a road accident. They are also known as personal injury lawyers.

They can file the case in court and represent clients in any court proceedings. They can also represent clients if there’s an out-of-court settlement between the parties.

Lawyers for auto accidents are not just confined in these roles. They are also able to do other jobs related to the legal practice of personal injuries.

Before and after a car accident

To understand the job of lawyers for auto accidents better, let’s look at it from the point of view of personal injury cases or settlements involving car accidents.

There are two stages in car accidents where lawyers can help:

1. Before a car accident

There are certain legal matters that drivers, whether new or experienced, need to know about car accidents. For this, lawyers for accidents are the immediate professionals to turn to when learning what to do during a car accident.

Some important points to learn from a lawyer before a car accident include:

  • who to call first when a car accident occurs
  • what to do (and not to do) right after the car accident
  • when to call the police and/or a lawyer when involved in a car accident

2. After a car accident

After the car accident is when hiring a lawyer is most appropriate. Hiring a lawyer is needed when:

  • someone in a car accident wants to file a personal injury case against the other (or the other way around, such as when a case is filed against them)
  • it cannot be determined who is at fault, which is necessary when computing the amount of just compensation and who is liable to pay for it
  • one must deal with their insurance company, or with the other party’s insurance company, and conflicts arise between them
  • one thinks that the settlement offer is not accurate or is not sufficient based on the damage done
  • there’s hostility from the other party, and dealing with them alone is not possible anymore

Roles of lawyers for auto accidents

Aside from being a counsel in court cases, lawyers for auto accidents can perform other roles for their clients, such as:

  • negotiator for the other party
  • counsel during mediation

A lawyer for auto accidents can also represent third parties who are injured in an accident. For example, the pedestrian who was injured because of the car accident may also need legal assistance.

Watch this video to know more about the work of lawyers for auto accidents:

For rankings of lawyers in other practice areas, check out our Special Reports section found under the Rankings page.

Personal injury cases

Whether acting for a client who is at fault (the defendant) or for the injured party (the plaintiff), a lawyer for auto accidents is necessary in a personal injury case.

A lawyer knows the different elements of personal injury, which is helpful for evidence that a party needs to prepare as a plaintiff. As a defendant, the lawyer is also able to identify the defenses to be set up against the possible arguments of the plaintiff.

As discussed below, a lawyer is the best person to calculate the most accurate amount of damages that a plaintiff may demand against the other party.

A lawyer for auto accidents is also needed when appealing the court’s adverse decision against a client.

Out-of-court settlements

It’s not only through a case in court that compensation for personal injury is awarded. There are also legal, out-of-court procedures that both parties may want to explore before they go to court.

These processes, called alternative dispute resolution (ADR), include:

  • negotiating among themselves for a possible settlement
  • submitting themselves to a neutral third-party mediator or arbitration panel

Since these ADR processes are different from court proceedings, it’s important to hire a lawyer when someone finds themselves in such situations.

In some jurisdictions, mediation is required before a case can be filed in court. An example of this is Ontario, specifically Toronto, Windsor, and Ottawa.

Under Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure, there are certain cases where mandatory mediation is required, and this includes personal injury cases.

Overall, lawyers are necessary because they are knowledgeable of the ADR processes, how it works, and what is required of the parties during the process.

Also, during these processes, lawyers for auto accidents can help clients in these situations:

  • choosing the mediator
  • preparing and submitting legal documents
  • advising during the mediation process
  • ensuring that the settlement award is just and proper
  • guiding the client in next steps after mediation, whether successful or not

Watch this excerpt of our interview with personal injury lawyers on the importance of mediation in resolving personal injury disputes:

For more interviews with personal injury lawyers and their work, check out and bookmark our Multimedia page under the Resources tab.

What laws should a good lawyer for auto accidents know?

The Canadian laws governing car accidents are vast and comprises of different practice areas. Some of these laws that concern car accidents include:

  • tort law: to help determine who is at fault, whether a party can rightly claim against the other, and whether the computation of damages is proper
  • traffic and road laws: to also determine who is at fault, whether the award of damages is justified, and to support one party’s claim against the other party
  • insurance laws: when conflicts arise against an insurance company, such as when a claim is rejected for vague reasons; also applies when dealing with insurers

Factors when hiring a lawyer for auto accidents

There are different factors that parties in a personal injury case may want to consider when hiring a lawyer for auto accidents.

Some of these factors are:

  • the lawyer’s familiarity of federal laws, common law, and provincial or territorial laws related to personal injury cases
  • knowledge of the lawyer about auto accidents (e.g. how they happen) when establishing the liability of the alleged negligent party

Is hiring a lawyer for auto accidents worth it?

There are many reasons why hiring a lawyer for auto accidents is worth it. Whether it’s before or right after an accident, here are some reasons to hire an auto accident lawyer:

Sound legal advice

When in doubt, there’s always a lawyer who can help with legal matters. In case of car accidents, there are several laws and regulations that may be involved.

The laws listed above can be explained properly by a lawyer for auto accidents, as applied in their client’s actual situation or the scenario of the car accident. This is the safer thing to do, since each road accident is unique. Small details can affect the outcome of one’s claim against the other party.

Plaintiff’s possible actions

Lawyers for auto accidents can advise plaintiffs in a personal injury case on their best possible actions. This will help them decide what to do next, based on its pros and cons.

A lawyer can check whether settling with the other party is the best course of action for the plaintiff, or if it’s required, or if filing a case in court is possible.

The lawyer can also explain the costs of these procedures, the estimated length of time before the case is resolved, and what to prepare.

More importantly, lawyers for auto accidents can advise clients on the strengths and weaknesses of their case.

Application of provincial and territorial laws

While Canada’s tort law is mostly based on common law, there are other provincial and territorial statutes that may also apply to a specific case for personal injury. For these specific laws, it’s better to consult with a lawyer for auto accidents who works in the area.

Claims before government programs

Some provinces offer programs where an injured party can still recover damages, even if the other party is uninsured or flees the scene of the car accident. Some of these programs are Alberta’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program (MVAC) and Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS).

These programs require a lawyer to help the injured party in the process, especially because filing a lawsuit is one of its requirements.

Court or settlement proceedings

Lawyers for auto accidents can help clients with filing a case in court until a decision is made. Appealing one’s case is another area where a lawyer is necessary.

Alternatively, parties may agree to settle the matter out of court. In this case, having a lawyer is advisable to ensure that the settlement agreement is fair.

Calculating the amount of damages

Whether it be filing a case in court, or having an out-of-court settlement, calculating the proper amount of fair compensation (also called damages) is important.

Because this is the heart of a personal injury case, damages must be accurately calculated and supported by evidence.

Here, the knowledge of a lawyer for auto accidents is necessary. Personal injury lawyers have experience in calculating these damages. They are well-versed in the common law principles and statutes that apply when proposing the amount of compensation.

Initially, the computation will include:

  • the costs of medical care, hospital bills, therapy costs, among others, whether past and future costs
  • the damages to cover the repair or to replace any property damaged or destroyed because of the accident
  • the general damages for pain and suffering, or the loss of enjoyment of life, experienced by the injured party caused by the accident

Lawyers can also provide clients with the documents that the client will need to prove the calculated damages.

Immediate filing of cases

Each province and territory in Canada has its own limitation statutes, which outline time limits for plaintiffs to file their case before the court. After these time periods, plaintiffs – including those who are filing personal injury cases – cannot file their claims in court.

This is another area where lawyers for auto accidents are important. With their help, plaintiffs can file their claims without violating these limitation statutes.

On the side of the defendant, lawyers can identify if the claim is already barred by the provincial or territorial limitation statute, which is one of their possible defenses in court.

Importance of lawyers for auto accidents

After a road accident, the injured party and even the alleged negligent party both want to have peace of mind. The only way to do this is to solve any issues they’re faced with.

Having a lawyer for auto accidents on their side is the first thing to do. Lawyers can play different roles to help their clients during these stressful times. They can guide clients not only before an accident can occur, but also after it. Lawyers can also advise and represent their clients in any ADR process or before the court.

At the end of the day, clients are assured that their rights are protected, and that the negligent party is held liable under the law.

Looking for lawyers for auto accidents? Check out our Special Report on the Top Personal Injury Boutiques 2023 which ranks the best personal injury law firms in Canada.

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