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Ask The Expert: What's my Personal Injury case worth?

What’s my personal injury 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 a personal injury 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 personal injury 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-19 restrictions currently in place).

In dealing with the question of the value of a person’s case in the first weeks and months following a personal 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 be recovering from a traumatic injury for 20-24 months.  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 change 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.

Have more personal injury questions? Check out our post Ask the Expert: 6 questions asked of a Personal Injury lawyer in Ontario.