The Steps Involved in an Ontario Personal Injury Litigation
If you have suffered a personal injury because of someone’s negligence or carelessness, you may need to start a lawsuit to receive fair compensation for your injuries. Starting a personal injury lawsuit may seem complex and confusing at first, but the lawyers at Littlejohn Barristers are here to guide you through the process. Here is a brief overview of the process which may help your understanding.
Step 1: Consultation
Should you decide to consult a lawyer for your injuries, the following will typically be conducted:
- A lawyer will meet with you to discuss the facts surrounding the accident and what your injuries are as a result;
- The lawyer will review any documents you have in support of your case (including, but not limited to, medical records and incident reports);
- If the lawyer decides that your case is viable, a fee agreement will be signed, and the attorney-client relationship will be made official
Step 2: Preparation and Exchange of the Pleadings
To begin an Ontario lawsuit, your lawyer will draft the document that begins the process, called the “Statement of Claim.” This will be filed with the appropriate Court.
These are the basic pleadings in a personal injury case in Ontario:
a. Statement of claim: The statement of claim sets out your injuries and the party responsible for causing the injuries. This document sets out the amount of compensation claimed and the relevant facts which support your entitlement to that money
b. Statement of defence: In response to the statement of claim, the lawyer for the defendant will prepare and serve a statement of defence to your lawyer. This statement usually includes legal defences or denials of the plaintiff’s statements
Your lawyer may decide to serve a reply to the legal defences or denials contained in the statement of defence. Once the exchange of pleadings has been completed, the parties may decide to participate in discovery.
Step 3: Discovery
The next step in the process is the opportunity to participate in oral discovery under oath (or testimony). This process involves the exchanging of evidence relating to your claim against the defendant and the defences raised in the statement of defence. You will be questioned by the lawyer(s) for the defendant(s), and your lawyer will examine the defendant.
Step 4: Mediation
In civil cases in Ontario, including personal injury, mandatory participation in a 3-hour mediation is required in several areas of the province. Mediation is a way to avoid the long process of trial by providing a way for people to settle disputes outside of court. Working together with the lawyers involved, a neutral mediator will attempt to help the disputing parties reach a solution which works for them.
Step 5: Pre-trial Conference
If the parties involved in the lawsuit cannot reach a settlement through mediation or on their own, their lawyers must attend a pre-trial conference (approximately three to six months before your trial). This conference involves a discussion with the judge about the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position. In many cases, the judge will provide their opinion of the case, which may be useful in resolving the case.
Step 6: Trial
If a settlement is not reached, the case will be scheduled for trial. At trial, a judge or jury will hear the evidence presented by your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer. After hearing the evidence, the judge or jurors render a verdict favouring one of the parties.
Step 7: Appeal (Optional)
If a party feels that the verdict at trial was incorrect in law, they may have the opportunity to appeal the decision.