Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Experience

What experience do you have with cases like mine?

Merricks Law Group is an injury firm that focuses on cases like yours. Our lawyers have extensive experience over the course of many years practicing personal injury law.

What the Agreement Covers

What legal services does this contingency fee cover?

If you have retained us to seek compensation for injuries arising out of a motor vehicle collision, our contingency fee agreement covers the principal claim against the other drivers or owners responsible for causing the collision. We will also assist you in advancing the claim against your own insurer for Statutory Accident Benefits. Our retainers are limited to these services and do not include any other type of claim unless specifically included in the agreement. Similarly, unless we enter into a separate retainer agreement regarding an appeal, our retainers end when there is a settlement or a final decision by the court or tribunal on the merits of your claim.  If as part of your injury you are unable to work and have access to private disability insurance, we may discuss with you entering into a separate retainer regarding this type of claim. Our services do not include representation regarding claims for property loss including damage to your vehicle plus any claim arising out of a government-funded disability or support programs such as Canada Pension Plan – Disability, Ontario Disability Support Plan, or Workers Compensation Insurance Board.

Calculating the Contingency Fee

What percentage will you charge me if I receive money at the end of my case?

Our standard rate is 33.33%.

How do you calculate the percentage for your fee?

If your case is resolved by way of a negotiated settlement without a separate payment for “costs”, your fee will be calculated by applying the contingency rate to the gross settlement figure after subtracting the amount of the firm’s incurred disbursements.  For more complicated scenarios such as those that may arise when there is a judgment including costs at the end of a trial,  please refer to your retainer agreement.

Based on your experience, do you think that we can resolve this case in the early stages? Is the percentage lower if I am likely to win or settle my case early?

In almost all instances involving claims arising from a motor vehicle accident, it takes many months if not years for a claim to get to the stage where a settlement is likely. This is because the most important factor in assessing the damages sustained by accident victims is the long-term consequences of the injury. This is rarely apparent until significant time has elapsed allowing for any necessary medical investigations and thereby allowing your doctors to make reliable predictions about your long-term recovery. As a result, an “early” settlement is extremely unlikely and our fee rate in part reflects this.   Some firms charge a sliding scale which means that you would end up paying a larger amount the more steps that are taken in the litigation, but we charge a fixed fee that provides our clients with greater certainty about their net compensation no matter when the matter is concluded.

Disbursements

Who will be paying for disbursements?

In our standard contingency fee arrangements disbursements will be paid upfront by our firm.

Will you take a lower contingency fee if I pay for my disbursements throughout the course of the case?

We generally do not accept retainers on this basis, but if there are special circumstances and it is something that may be appropriate, we would be happy to discuss this option with you.

Can you give me an estimate of how much disbursements could end up costing in my case?

In the initial stages of a claim, it is not possible to provide a meaningful estimate of the total amount of disbursements that will be incurred with your claim.  Early in the case, most disbursements consist of the cost to obtain medical and other records necessary to substantiate your claim. The costs of these records vary considerably depending on the complexity of your medical history and the amounts charged by individual clinics.  As the matter continues, there are various fees the court applies with each new document filed or step taken in the litigation. In most cases, before settlement, at least one expert report will have to be prepared and these typically cost between $5,000 and $6,000.00 each. If the matter proceeds to trial more than one expert report will likely have to be prepared and additional sums may have to be incurred to cover the experts’ expenses for their preparation and attendance at trial. Upon request, your lawyer will be happy to provide you with an updated total of the disbursements incurred on your behalf.

Costs

If I win my case, will I likely be awarded costs?

In Ontario, the courts typically award “costs” to the “successful party” in a lawsuit. However, it is important to remember that costs are discretionary and thus while the courts apply rules to determine when and how much costs are awarded, judges have a significant amount of latitude in determining exactly how to apply these rules. Moreover, the majority of cases are settled before trial in which case there is rarely a separate payment for costs. In general, if you do pursue the claim to a trial and win any amount, and the opposing party has not previously offered as much or more than you have been awarded, you will be awarded 40% to 50% of your actual legal fees and disbursements in addition to your other damages. However, there are many factors to consider in terms of both the entitlement and calculation of costs, so if you have further questions in this regard, please follow up with your lawyer.

If I lose my case, is it likely I will have to pay costs?

Yes, for the same reason you may be awarded costs if you are successful,  if you fail to prove your claim and have commenced court proceedings, you are potentially liable for the opposing party’s legal costs.

Based on your experience, how much in costs will I have to pay to the other side if I lose?

Costs are awarded in part based on the conduct of the parties once litigation has been commenced. Cost awards are also dependent on other factors such as the level of court-involved and the complexity of the liability and medical issues. As a result, it is not possible to give a meaningful estimate of the total costs exposure in the initial stage of a claim. If your case does proceed to trial in Superior Court and you lose, then your exposure to the opposing party’s costs could range between $50,000 and $75,000 or more depending on the length and complexity of the proceedings.  However, it is important to remember a large majority of cases are resolved before the claimant incurring a significant risk of exposure to the opposing party’s costs. If this remains a significant concern, please speak to your lawyer about costs protection insurance.

Motor Vehicle Accident Cases

Will a deductible apply to my motor vehicle accident case?

Yes, in the vast majority of cases involving a motor vehicle collision in Ontario, a deductible will apply. There are rare cases where certain defendants are not considered “protected” under the existing regulations and in such cases, a deductible may not apply. In addition, a deductible may not apply if you have a very large claim and your award exceeds a monetary limit set by the Ontario government. Once your case has progressed to the point where it is possible to provide a rough estimate of your claim for pain and suffering damages, speak to your lawyer about whether there is a realistic chance that your claim may not be subject to the deductible.

If a deductible applies to my case, how could it affect my award of settlement?

The exact amount of the deductible varies every year by an amount set by the Ontario government. It is currently approximately $40,000.00. This would mean that however your damages for pain and suffering are assessed, approximately $40,000.00 would be subtracted off the top. For example, if your pain and suffering were assessed at $60,000.00, your actual award would be approximately $20,000 after the deductible of $40,000 is applied.

My Settlement or Award

If I win or settle, how will I receive my settlement or award money?

In almost all instances, the funds are forwarded to our firm in trust. Upon receipt, we bill out and distribute these funds following the retainer agreement and your directions.

Based on your experience, how long will I have to wait for my settlement or award?

As noted above, it is not possible to give a meaningful estimate of how long a specific claim will take in the earlier stages of a claim. If the matter does not settle and proceeds to trial, it may take five or six years before the trial is heard. However, the majority of cases settle within two to four years from the date of loss.

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