Most Canadian lawyers who specialize in personal injury law will either represent injured people or defend against personal injury lawsuits, but usually not both. If you've been injured, you'll probably want to hire what's called a "plaintiff's lawyer."
If you don't already have a list of prospective Canadian personal injury lawyers, a great place to start your search is right here at Canadian-Lawyers.ca. You can do a free search to come up with a list of personal injury lawyers by using the Find A Lawyer search box that can be accessed from anywhere on Canadian-Lawyers.ca. (You should see a search box on the right side of your computer screen.)
You'll need to do some initial screening of your list of personal injury lawyers to whittle it down to three or four prospective candidates:
- Look at biographical information, including whatever you can find on websites for the personal injury lawyers and their law firms. Do they appear to have expertise in the area you need? Do they have any information on their websites that is helpful to you?
- Personal injury lawyers who represent injured people usually don't also defend against lawsuits in this area. The profile for the Canadian lawyer and his or her firm should give you an idea of whom they primarily represent. If you can't tell, call the personal injury lawyer's office and find out.
- Use search engines to surf the Internet. Can you find any articles, FAQ's or other informational pieces the Canadian personal injury lawyer has done that give you a level of comfort? Cross check your references by doing searches using key words such as "personal injury lawyers" or "trial lawyers."
- If you already have a working relationship with a Canadian lawyer who practices in another area, ask him or her for the names of some good personal injury lawyers.
- Ask other people if they've heard of the personal injury lawyers and what they think about them.
- Contact your provincial law society or visit their website to find out if the personal injury lawyer is in good standing.
- Check out the yellow pages of your telephone directory. Does the personal injury lawyer advertise? If so, do you find it compelling? Helpful? Tasteful?
- Check out the online archives of your local newspaper. Has there been any publicity about the Canadian personal lawyer or the cases that he or she has handled? This is particularly likely in the case of a personal injury lawyer who handles large-settlement personal injury cases.
- Before you hire a Canadian personal lawyer, ask for references. You want to talk to people who could comment on the lawyer's skills and trustworthiness. Ask if it is okay to talk to some of the lawyer's representative clients.
- Ask about conflicts of interest. Does the Canadian personal injury lawyer represent any opposing parties? If you are filing for bankruptcy, for example, does the personal injury lawyer represent any of your creditors?
- Ask for a copy of a firm brochure and promotional materials that the firm may have. Crosscheck these materials against your other sources and references.
Consider any special needs you have. For example, could you benefit from a personal injury lawyer who speaks a language other than English?
You shouldn't necessarily cross a personal injury lawyer off your list just because he or she didn't have the time to meet with you on short notice. Good personal injury lawyers are busy, so they may not be able to spend as much time as they would like with prospective clients. You should also anticipate that whomever you hire may have to delegate a lot of responsibility to his or her staff. You should expect to be treated courteously and professionally by the staff and the personal injury lawyer.
Unless there are special circumstances, you'll want to hire a personal injury lawyer with a local office, or in the location where your accident occurred.
A great way to start your search for a local Canadian Personal Injury lawyer is at Canadian-Lawyers.ca. Go to the 'Find a Lawyer' search box that appears on the right hand side of this screen to start your lawyer search. Type in Personal Injury or the name of the law firm, the city and the province that you are looking to hire a lawyer from, and click on the 'Search Now' button. This will generate a list of local Canadian Personal Injury lawyers.