OTTAWA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER – About a year ago, a very nice lady met me for a consultation after a slip and fall. I really liked her and felt badly for her. She was a single mother with kids and this accident had thrown her for a loop. We met. We spoke on the phone. But in the end, she decided to handle her case on her own. It was not the largest or most complicated case, so the decision to represent herself was not ludicrous.
However, now she is dealing with the adjuster one on one. He is coming to her work to negotiate a settlement. (To her work!?) And she is calling me now. What do I think about this? What do I think about that? Could I look over the documents before she signs. She’ll pay me for my time, of course. And she means it. I know she does. So why do I have to say no?
Because when a personal injury lawyer works up a case for settlement, she has obtained and reviewed your medical records. She has spoken to your rehabilitation professionals (your physiotherapist, for example) and knows what your future needs are. She has studied your past loss of income and obtained whatever reports and calculations are needed to project what your future loss of income claim is. She has considered the impact of your accident on your family and quantified your Family Law Act claims. She has tallied up your out-of-pocket expenses to determine what you have spent and what you will spend in the future. She’s done all that, and more.
So when you ask her to look at numbers on a piece of paper, without any of that context, it is very difficult for her to give a useful opinion on whether it is a fair offer. She can tell you it is in the ball park or it is ridiculous. But if she does that, it is without knowing if that back pain may result in a spinal fusion surgery a year from now. So, why would she do that and potentially lead you astray?
There are times you can and should go it alone in a personal injury claim. And even in those times, it makes sense to have an initial consultation with a lawyer to make sure you are on the right track. However, if you are representing yourself, no lawyer can or should give you an off the cuff opinion about the insurance company’s offer. Without a file review, that opinion ain’t worth much!