I believe that I was the victim of a fault. What should I do ?

First, has your recourse been prescribed?

You may have a good claim, but if you wait too long you will not be able to submit your claim, even if it is valid. This principle is called “prescription”.

The rule of prescription states that a claim must be made within three years of the fault and the first manifestation of prejudice, or within three years of becoming reasonably aware of the existence of the fault. There are some exceptions to the rule, but it is nonetheless very important to act with the greatest of diligence.

What is the procedure to follow after the discovery of a fault?

In general, a claim resulting from a fault (accident, medical malpractice, aggression, etc.) follows a series of steps.

1. Initial Interview

During an initial interview, we will develop a thorough understanding of your situation and prepare a list of steps for you to follow to help us assessing the chances of success of your claim.

2. Obtaining the evidence

It is usually impossible to evaluate with any certainty a claim for wrongdoing without obtaining the appropriate evidence. This evidence includes the evidence to prove the fault (photographs, videos, medical records, etc.), but also the evidence to show your damage (for example, your tax returns and appropriate medical records).

3. Expert opinions

Once the appropriate evidence has been obtained, an experienced attorney can conduct a preliminary assessment. However, in the vast majority of instances, it is usually desirable to discuss a case with one or more expert witnesses to determine the fault and have your damage assessed. This is where the high costs associated with cases involving personal injury really add up. Indeed, a competent expert often charges between $350 and $450 per hour to review files and render an opinion. In addition, there is no guarantee that the expert will agree to testify on your behalf. Often it is necessary to engage a number of experts to present the entirety of a case.

However, if you proceed and you win your case, costs of engaged expertise will usually be reimbursed, and in certain instances arrangements on payments will be made.

4. Decide what to do next

Once the experts’ reports are obtained, you must discuss with your lawyer in order to decide what to do next. Is this a case where the fault is easily identifiable? Are the damages sufficient to justify spending time and money? Are there options to consider? This crucial step must be done with a trusted legal advisor who will act in your best interests only, not his or her own.

For more information on the required skills, please consult our article.

How much will it cost?

Files of this nature generally demand an enormous amount of work and the process can be time-consuming and lengthy. It can therefore be a very costly process.

During the initial interview, we can discuss different ways of financing your file. We operate at times on a fixed rate for certain steps in a file (such as a preliminary analysis). It also happens that we accept to be remunerated according to a percentage of the amount you might win or settle for. In this case, we earn nothing if you are not successful but you remain responsible for costs of the experts and other disbursements.