Which Court Should I Bring My Claim In?
People who are injured in a car accident sometimes ask whether they can save time and money by pursuing their claim in small claims court. Often, the answer is no, even if the claim is not a large one.
Depending on where you live, small claims registries are often very busy. You cannot obtain a trial date until all your medical reports are ready, your counsel has filed a certificate of readiness, you attend a settlement conference and in many cases also a trial conference. The whole process can take approximately 2 years in many cases.
If fault is not an issue and there are no major issues around credibility, a supreme court case can go to a summary trial in about 6 months. However, that is a best case scenario, as the defence often has a right to oral discovery that can take several months to complete. While the oral examination for discovery usually only lasts about 2 hours, it has to be booked ahead of time.
Small claims can be somewhat cheaper, in that the filing fees are less and there is no oral discovery. It costs around $1,000 in court reporter fees to attend a discovery, including for transcripts.
Sometimes a case can be settled at a settlement conference in small claims with the help of a judge. However, a case can be settled by negotiation at any time and in my experience cases that are not big and suitable for settlement are usually readily settled by negotiations between lawyers at an early stage.
In a case that is risky, the party at fault is not exposed to significant legal costs in small claims, however in many cases a case can be strengthened through oral discovery which is not available.
The bottom line:
Personal injury cases, even simple ones, are not so simple, even in small claims; you still need to prove fault in many cases and obtain sufficient medical and other evidence to prove your claim. Hiring an experienced law firm such as Campbell Redmond can significantly enhance your chance of success. The correct choice of court involves an exercise of legal judgment involving both training and experience.
We can help you identify what the most effective way to resolve your case is. Contact Oliver Hui for a free consultation.