Legal advertising is everywhere: From the backs of TTC buses to the urinals at Leafs games. I suspect that there is advertising in the ladies room as well, but I haven’t checked. So, with all of this advertising, how can an injured cyclist make sure that they get quality representation?
Below are the top 5 things to look for in a bike accident lawyer:
#1 – Does their practice focus on cycling cases? Bike accident cases are similar – BUT NOT THE SAME AS – car accident cases. A whole subset of case law has developed with respect to how to apportion liability when a cyclist is struck by a car. The courts have considered issues such as how to split liability when: the cyclist was not wearing a helmet; the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk; or, the cyclist was cycling at night without lights. Importantly, in all of the cases referred to above, the court found the drivers to be at fault. A bike accident lawyer should be familiar with these cases to ensure that their cyclist-clients are adequately compensated.
#2 – Does the lawyer have the resources to handle the case? Serious personal injury cases are expensive for a lawyer to pursue. It is not unusual to spend $100,000 or more to hire experts and investigators and obtain medico-legal reports. One of the most important questions to ask yourself about a lawyer is: does this person have the ability and the desire to spend the necessary money on my case?
#3 – Is the lawyer a cyclist him/herself? While it is not strictly necessary to hire a lawyer who is also a cyclist, it often helps. The practice of personal injury law requires empathy. And unsurprisingly, it is easier to empathise if you have cycled a mile in your client’s shoes. A cyclist-lawyer is also able to see an accident through a cyclist’s eyes and may be better situated to develop more creative and powerful liability theories.
#4 – Are you experienced? It was the name of Jimi Hendrix’s first album, and it’s a great question for a potential lawyer. Age does not necessarily equal experience. What a client should ask is: what are some of the biggest cases that the lawyer has handled? Insurers know which lawyers and firms handle serious cases, and they behave accordingly. Your lawyer’s reputation, and their firm’s reputation, is going to have a significant impact on the insurer’s perception of you case. If they are known as serious lawyers who handle serious injuries the insurer will likely treat you accordingly. If they are known as lawyers who only handle minor cases, again, the insurer will likely treat you accordingly.
#5 – Do you like the lawyer? It is so simple that it may seem silly, but it’s very important to have a good personality match. The relationship you have with your lawyer is just that, a relationship, and like any other relationship, it requires mutual respect, honesty and open communication. Make sure that you like your lawyer and trust them, before you sign up for a multi-year relationship with them.