Graves and Richard is a well known personal injury law firm serving St. Catharines and the Niagara Falls area. Chris Richard, Managing Partner of Graves and Richard recently sat down with host Lee Sterry of Niagara’s 610 Newstalk Radio for another episode of Legal Matters. This episode focused on personal injury lawyers taking a personal injury case to trial and what the behind the scenes preparation can look like.
There is often a misconception that personal injury law cases never go to trial and that cases are, always settled out of court. While it is true that personal injury lawyers don’t spend as much time in court as lawyers practicing in other areas of the law, not all personal injury cases settle out of court.
Trials Increasing In Personal Injury Law
In recent years, there has been a shift in the personal injury law field and more cases are heading to trial. Within the last five to six years, insurance companies have taken a harder line when it comes to personal injury claims which are resulting in more cases headed to trial. Insurers are challenging more plaintiffs and personal injury law firms not only in St. Catharines but in all Canadian cities have prepped more cases for trial than has been the previous norm. Typically, a personal injury lawyer would try one case every two years. However, in 2016, personal injury lawyers at Graves and Richard tried four cases – that is a significant increase.
Inside a Personal Injury Trial
If a personal injury case does go to trial, they typically last 8-10 days. However, this is not always the case and some personal injury trials have lasted as long as nine weeks! Trials are a huge undertaking and require a lot of preparation. For personal injury trials, every aspect of the plaintiff’s life are open to examination. The trial usually involves a very long list of witnesses.
Personal injury lawyers will work with witnesses such as:
- The injured plaintiff. They are usually first on the stand and for the longest amount of time.
- Witnesses related to liability – police, engineers, etc.
- Witnesses related to medical claims – family doctor, specialists, medical professionals who have treated the plaintiff due to the case related injury, medical experts that can speak to prognosis and future medical issues.
- Witnesses related to finances – accountants, cost experts, income loss forecasting.
- Friends and family who can speak about the plaintiff and their life both before and after the accident.
One of the biggest jobs for a personal injury lawyer going to trial is to adequately prepare all the witnesses. For every one hour of testimony, there is usually three hours of preparation. In some cases, trials can take place years and years after the actual accident so going back over past details and what has happened since the accident is also a big undertaking.
Going To Trial
When a personal injury law firm agrees to take a case, they don’t know whether a case may end up in court or not. Graves and Richard assures all of their clients that no matter what happens, they remain committed to the case and will follow through so that the client is represented in the best way possible. If you know someone that may need a personal injury lawyer in St. Catharines or in the Niagara area, they can contact Graves And Richard for a free, one hour consultation.