There are many paths that can be taken to resolve a personal injury claim. This blog will look at the different stages involved in litigating a personal injury claim, and the different ways in which a settlement can be reached.
Sometimes, a personal injury claim can be resolved directly with the insurance company, without the need to involve defence lawyers. Your lawyer may work directly with a representative from the insurance company to negotiate a settlement for your claim on your behalf. If an appropriate settlement is reached, the claim can be settled without any further litigation.
However, not all claims can be resolved in this way, and instead, may require litigation.
Questioning (or Examination for Discovery
Often the first stage of litigation is a proceeding called a Questioning (or an Examination for Discovery). During the questioning, the defence lawyer will ask you questions, under oath, about your case, and a court reporter is present to take a transcript of everything that is said at the Questioning.
The purpose of the Questioning is to learn as much information as possible about your claim. It also allows the lawyers to assess their case and the credibility of the witnesses.
After the questioning, your lawyer will often be required to fulfill “undertakings”. Undertakings often include documents which the defence lawyers would like to see in order to help them in assessing your case. This can include updated medical documentation, income documentation etc.… Your lawyer will need to collect these documents and provide them to the defence lawyers following the Questioning.
At some point after the Questioning has occurred, negotiations may resume, and it is possible that a settlement is reached at this stage.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
If a settlement cannot be reached following the Questioning, a Mediation may be scheduled. A Mediation is overseen by a mediator, who is a neutral third-party, and is there to help the parties come to a resolution.
Another alternative would be a JDR (judicial dispute resolution) which is similar to a mediation, except this proceeding is overseen by a judge, rather than a mediator, and is similar to a “mini trial” in that both parties have the opportunity to present their case to a judge.
If a settlement cannot be reached either at mediation, or afterwards, your file may need to be set for trial. However, personal injury files rarely make it to this stage of litigation in Alberta, as the parties must show good faith attempts to settle prior to being able to schedule a trial date.
Overall, there are many ways to resolve a personal injury claim, and a personal injury lawyer can help guide you through every step of the litigation process needed in order to settle your claim.