Frequently Asked Questions
1. How are legal fees determined?
All legal fees are based on a percentage of the final settlement obtained on the client's behalf. The amount of the percentage charged is mutually agreed upon at the outset of the case and is confirmed in writing. The percentage that we agree upon will not change regardless of the duration of the case. There will never be any surprises at the conclusion of a case. We do not charge any legal fees from benefit payments that a client receives directly from an insurance company.
2. When is your legal fee payable?
Legal fees and disbursements are payable when a settlement is reached. A client will only be charged legal fees and disbursements if we obtain compensation or money on their behalf. Our clients are never in a situation where the amount of our legal fees and disbursements are greater than the amount obtained on their behalf.
3. Do you work on a contingency fee basis? If so, how does it work?
Yes. We do not request any money up front, including any retainer. All legal fees are based on a percentage of the settlement amount. The amount of the percentage charged is mutually agreed upon at the outset of the case. We understand the financial burdens that can be put on an injured person and their family. Therefore, we assume all of the financial risks, regardless of the outcome.
4. Do you charge for an initial (first) consultation?
No. All initial consultations are free. There is no risk or cost for potential clients to contact us to discuss their situation, whether it is held by telephone, or in-person at either our office, their home or in the hospital.
5. How many years of Personal Injury Law experience does the Managing Principal have?
6. Do the lawyers of Smitiuch Injury Law belong to any professional association?
Yes. The Law Society of Upper Canada, Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and American Association for Justice.
7. What percentage of the firm's practice is devoted to Personal Injury Law?
8. Do you make references (previous clients) available to prospective clients and can prospective clients contact them prior to deciding to retain you?
Yes. Previous clients have given the firm permission to give their contact information to prospective clients as a reference.
Lawyer - Client Relationship
9. How do you communicate with your clients?
The firm's motto is "Helping those who need it the most.". We recognize that clients are faced with a myriad of issues after an injury and our job is to let them focus on their recovery. We communicate with each client by whatever means works best for them; in-person, by email, telephone, or letter.
10. What is your practice with respect to responding to inquiries made by your clients?
We pride ourselves on being available to answer all questions and concerns in a timely manner. The firm's customer service standard is to return all client calls by the end of the business day, or within 24 hours at the very latest.
11. Are you available to meet with clients outside regular business hours?
Yes. We are available to meet with clients after business hours, including evenings and weekends. We also understand that it may be difficult for clients to come to our office, so we are pleased to meet with them at their home, hospital or any other location.
12. What is your practice with respect to keeping clients informed regarding the progress of their case?
We pride ourselves on our high level of communication with clients. The level of communication is dependent upon what they prefer. Some clients prefer updates at every step in the process, while others prefer not to be "bothered" with regular updates.
13. Do you communicate on a regular interval, only when there is something critical to report or at major milestones?
We ask our clients at the intake stage what level of communication they would prefer. At the very least we provide all clients with updates when there is something critical or at major milestones.
14. Do you communicate in writing or by phone, etc?
Again, the method of communication with a client is dependent upon their preferred means of doing so. In most cases it is in-person, by email or telephone.
15. Do you work closely with a team of personal injury lawyers?
Yes. Our team consists of a Managing Principal (Michael Smitiuch), three Associate Lawyers (Peter Cho, Luke Hamer and Megan Self), a Litigation Coordinator (Arthur Ryan) and an Accident Benefits Manager (Chris Jackson). In addition, our team consists of four Paralegals, three Law Clerks and four other support staff. They all work under the direction of the Managing Principal to ensure that all aspects of a case are moving forward in a timely manner.
16. Do you refer or delegate any matters of my case to another lawyer or law firm?
No. Smitiuch Injury Law is fully capable of handling all aspects of a personal injury case including lengthy or complicated trials.
17. Who would work on my case and what are their qualifications?
Smitiuch Injury Law has a very dynamic team of professionals who work together to assist our clients in all aspects of their case. These individuals include:
Michael Smitiuch - Managing Principal
Mike obtained his law degree (LL.B.) from the University of Western Ontario. Mike also holds an Honours B.A. in Political Science from McMaster University. His practice is dedicated exclusively to representing individuals and family members of those who have been seriously injured or killed. Mike has lectured and written extensively for various legal conferences and publications, including the The Advocates' Quarterly and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. Mike is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice.
Peter Cho - Associate Lawyer
Peter articled with our firm and was Called to the Bar on June 16, 2011. He obtained his law degree (J.D.) from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. Peter was successful in his first arbitration hearing at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).
Luke Hamer - Associate Lawyer
Luke articled with our firm and was Called to the Bar on January 25, 2013. He obtained his law degree (J.D.) from Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia. Prior to attending law school, Luke studied at the University of Toronto where he graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science majoring in Anthropology and English.
Megan Self - Associate Lawyer
Megan articled with our firm and was Called to the Bar in June, 2014. She attended law school at the University of Windsor, where she successfully obtained her Juris Doctor law degree (J.D.). Prior to attending law school, Megan attended the University of Western Ontario, where she received an Honours Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology and Minor in Psychology.
Chris Jackson - Accident Benefits Manager
Chris is responsible for managing all accident benefits matters related to a case and ensuring that clients receive all the benefits that they are entitled to. He is responsible for working with rehabilitation professionals to ensure our clients receive the best treatments available to assist in their recovery. He is a Registered Rehabilitation Professional (RRP) and has qualified and testified in Arbitration and Court as an expert in Vocational Rehabilitation and Future Care Costs.
Arthur Ryan - Litigation Coordinator
Arthur has extensive expertise in serious slip and fall incidents. He is responsible for case management, client liaison, and Trial and Mediation preparation.
18. In what cities, towns and geographical areas do you regularly practice?
Smitiuch Injury Law has three fully operational and staffed offices which service all of Ontario. Our head office is in Toronto, Ontario and our second office is located in Brantford, Ontario. Although a large percentage of our clients are located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Brantford, we have and will represent clients throughout Ontario including cities such as Ingersoll, Woodstock, Kitchener-Waterloo, Simcoe, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Barrie, Parry Sound, Oshawa, Kingston and Ottawa.
19. Do you have access to resources like physicians and other health care providers in the communities in which you practice?
Yes, we have developed an extensive network of physicians and other health care providers throughout Ontario. We maintain a database to provide the best treatment available to assist in our client's recovery. Our firm holds an annual seminar for health care professionals as a further means of establishing ongoing working relationships with them.
20. How often will client meetings take place?
We meet with clients whenever they request one. We hold case conferences and team meetings on a regular basis, at which a client's rehabilitation specialists, case managers and a representative(s) of the firm, meet to review and discuss the progress of a client's case and strategise on future challenges. In addition, we meet with each client in person when there are complex issues to address, such as, prior to Examinations for Discovery, Mediations, Trial or Arbitrations.
21. Where will those meetings be held?
Meetings by telephone occur more frequently than in-person meetings. Client meetings will take place where it is most convenient for the client, whether that is in their home, our office or any other location convenient for them.
22. Is your office wheelchair accessible?
Yes. All our offices are fully wheelchair accessible.
23. Will you visit clients in their home or at a location outside of your office?
Yes. If our client is unable to attend meetings in our office we are always able to meet with them in their home or at any other convenient location. We do so on many occasions. Many of our clients have never been to either of our offices.
24. In what languages are you able to provide legal services?
Members of the firm speak English, French, Filipino, Ilocano, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian and ASL (American Sign Language). We can access translation services for any languages, if needed.
Please call our office at 1-866-621-1551 if you have any further questions.