Lawggle Ask The Expert: Dale Orlando

What’s my case worth and how long will it take?

These are two of the most common questions that are asked at an initial interview and are two of the only questions that cannot be answered honestly when retained in the first several months following an accident.  General guidelines can be provided with respect to the typical time it takes to move a case through the litigation process, but this will be just that; a general guideline.  Each case presents its own challenges in terms of coordinating the schedules of multiple counsel in arranging examinations for discovery, dealing with undertakings and refusals, obtaining records and expert reports and ultimately obtaining a trial date (particularly given the Covid restrictions currently in place).

In dealing with the question of the value of a person’s case in the first weeks and months following injury, the honest answer is that we don’t know and won’t know for approximately 20-24 months.  The value of a person’s case is largely dependent on their physical, mental and emotional recovery from injury and their ability to return to their pre-accident level of function.  With the exception of complete spinal cord injuries and amputations, a person will generally recover for 20-24 months from a traumatic injury.  This timeline can be significantly extended when dealing with pediatric cases.  It is only once an injured person’s recovery has plateaued that we can obtain expert opinion evidence regarding the person’s prognosis for the future.  The prognosis will detail the person’s current functional impairments and, more importantly in cases with injuries that are prone to degenerative chance over time, the expected course of decline in function over the coming years.  It is only with a prognosis in hand that we are able to obtain expert evidence from vocational experts describing impact on employability and from life care planners describing the injured party’s expected future cost of care.