What Are The Stages Of A Personal Injury Case?

injury lawyers Calgary

The Canadian Institute for Health Information revealed that over one million Canadians visit emergency departments annually due to unintentional injuries. Many of these injuries have the potential to lead to personal injury lawsuits.

However, the aftermath of a personal injury can be a disorienting experience. In Canada, navigating the legal system to secure compensation for injuries can feel equally daunting. So, understanding the stages of a personal injury case empowers you to make better decisions throughout the process.

With the help of injury lawyers Calgary, accident victims are guided from the initial consultation, where the foundation of the personal injury claim is established, to the courtroom, where compelling evidence and legal arguments are presented to be fairly compensated.

First Stage: Initial Consultation

1. Fact-Finding and Causation

A personal injury lawyer gathers details about the motor vehicle accident (for example), including the following:

  • Events preceding the injury
  • The cause of the injuries sustained
  • The damages incurred

2. Legal Framework and Damage Assessment

The injury lawyer explores potential legal claims (negligence, product liability, etc.) and calculates the full extent of damages (lost wages, pain & suffering).

3. Risk Assessment and Transparency

The injury lawyer analyzes relevant case law to assess the strengths and weaknesses of an accident claim, explains the legal process and potential challenges, and discusses associated legal fees.

Second Stage: Thorough Investigation

Evidence Gathering

The foundation of any investigation rests on securing relevant documents. This may include:

  • Police report
  • Scene photographs
  • Employment records

The investigator will locate and interview eyewitnesses to gather their accounts and signed statements. Digital evidence may involve securing:

  • Footage
  • Cellphone data
  • Social media posts

Timeline Development and Causation Analysis

  • A detailed timeline is created outlining the sequence leading up to the, let’s say, car accident, the aftermath, and recovery milestones.
  • This timeline helps establish causation, the link between the defendant’s actions and the injuries.

Legal Process and Adherence to Alberta’s Limitations Periods

  • Alberta has strict deadlines for filing lawsuits. Missing them can limit the ability to pursue legal actions or personal injury claims.
  • Working with Calgary personal injury lawyers ensures all claims are filed within the legal timeframes.

Third Stage: Filing a Formal Complaint

Legal Activities InvolvedDetails 

Identifying the Defendant and Determining Liability
The lawsuit identifies the at-fault party responsible for the injuries.Outlines the legal theory for liability and how the defendant breached the duty of care – causing serious injuries.

Drafting and Filing the Statement of Claim
A legal document outlining the case details, the legal basis for the claim, and the damages done.A lawyer ensures it adheres to Alberta Rules of Court and accurately reflects the case.

Serving the Defendant and Initiating the Pre-Trial Process
The Statement of Claim is given to the defendant, who has a specific timeframe to respond (normally with a Statement of Defence).Law firm ensures all deadlines are met according to Alberta’s Limitations Act.

Fourth Stage: Discovery Process

ToolDescriptionStrategic Advantages




Interrogatories



Written questions posed to the other party, answered under oath.
Uncover details about the accident from the defendant’s perspective.Identify potential witnesses.Learn about the defendant’s insurance coverage and potential admissions of fault.Exploit inconsistencies between initial statements and sworn responses.Identify potentially helpful witnesses the defendant may be unaware of.Gauge the strength of the defendant’s defence and willingness to settle.



Document Requests


Formal requests for relevant documents from the opposing party.
Obtain supporting evidence (e.g., accident reports, witness statements)Identify the need for expert witnesses based on documents (e.g., maintenance records, medical reports).Assess the resources and arguments the defendant may use at trial based on documents produced.




Depositions



Out-of-court, sworn testimony from relevant parties and witnesses.
Preserve witness testimony in case of future unavailability.Expose inconsistencies between prior statements and deposition testimony.Assess the demeanour and credibility of potential opposing witnesses.Prepare yourself for your own deposition by practicing with your lawyer.Craft targeted questions to elicit favourable information during opposing party depositions.

Fifth Stage: Negotiation and Settlement 

Pre-Trial Considerations and Strategic Planning

  • Filing motions to address pre-trial issues (exclude evidence, compel documents, seek summary judgment).
  • Selecting impartial jurors (voir dire) who understand legal concepts and will fairly evaluate evidence.
  • Injury lawyers outline the case with open statements, legal theory, and evidence demonstrating the liability.

Presenting Your Case | Evidence & Witness Testimony

  • Injury lawyers ensure adherence to rules for evidence admissibility (witness testimony, expert reports, photographs).
  • Injury lawyers guide witnesses through testimony and prepare them for cross-examination by opposing counsel.
  • Qualified professionals provide scientific or technical insights to support a claim (accident reconstruction, medical professional, etc).

Closing Arguments and Jury Instructions

  • An injury lawyer summarizes the evidence with closing arguments, highlights key points, and urges the jury for a favourable verdict and fair settlement.
  • The judge instructs the jury on relevant legal principles for deliberation (burden of proof, legal claim elements, potential damages).

Sixth Stage: Securing a Just Verdict

This involves finalizing that the cause of injuries is due to someone else’s negligence. It involves proving the following:

  • Duty of care, proximate cause, and breach of duty
  • Legal obligation to act safely (e.g., motorist’s duty to others on the road).
  • The defendant’s actions/omissions fell below the standard of care (e.g., speeding, failing to yield).
  • The defendant’s breach substantially caused the injuries.

Seventh Stage: Appeal Process

Grounds for Appeal

Appeals are not retrials of the case. They’re limited to reviewing legal errors committed by the trial court judge. These errors may include:

Evidentiary Errors

Improper admission or exclusion of evidence can be grounds for appeal. For example, the trial judge may have mistakenly allowed inadmissible hearsay evidence or excluded relevant expert testimony.

Jury Instruction Errors

The jury instructions provided by the judge are crucial in guiding the jury on the legal principles applicable to the case. Errors in these instructions, such as incorrectly defining legal concepts or omitting essential elements of your claim, can be grounds for appeal.

Judicial Misconduct

In rare instances, a judge’s conduct during the trial may be deemed prejudicial or unfair. This could involve bias towards one party, improper communication with jurors, or denying a motion on irrelevant grounds.

Time Limits for Filing an Appeal

The time limits for filing an appeal are normally much shorter than the lawsuit filing deadline—often 30 days or less.

Eighth Stage: Collection of Compensation in Personal Injury Cases

National Center for State Courts indicates that the median time to collect a judgment can range from 1 to 3 years or even longer in complex cases. Plaintiffs should be prepared for a potentially lengthy collection process, which includes:

  • Voluntary Payment
  • Post-Judgment Discovery
  • Judgment Liens
  • Wage Garnishment
  • Seizure and Sale of Assets
injury lawyers Calgary

Understand the Stages of Your Personal Injury Case

Navigating personal injury litigation does feel overwhelming. So, understanding the different stages involved helps you determine what to expect and make informed decisions throughout the process. Be it motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, car accident claims, or medical malpractice, an experienced personal injury lawyer in Calgary can help accident victims seek justice and secure proper compensation.

A reputable law firm like Sidhu Personal Injury Lawyers Calgary is here to guide you every step of the way. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us fight for your best interests and the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a personal injury case usually take?

The duration of an injury case varies significantly. It depends on the severity of the injuries, the intricacy of the case, legal fees, and the willingness of the parties to settle an injury claim. Simple cases may be resolved by an insurance company within a few months, while complex cases with significant injuries or disputed liability to legal representation can take years to achieve a fair and just compensation.

What evidence is important in an injury case?

Strong injury cases rely on evidence establishing a duty of care (defendant’s legal obligation to act safely), breach of duty (defendant’s actions/omissions fell below the standard of care), and proximate cause (defendant’s breach substantially caused your injuries) for sound legal advice. This evidence can include police reports, scene photographs, witness statements, and expert testimonies.

Can I appeal an unfavourable verdict in an injury case?

Yes, you may have the option to appeal an unfavourable verdict to a higher court. An appeal argues that the lower court made legal errors that unfairly prejudiced your case. The appeal process is complicated and has strict time limits, so consulting with a competent lawyer in Calgary is essential if you’re considering this route.

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