Up Close and Personal with Lawyer, Lisa Morell Kelly
We invited Lisa Morell Kelly to tell us about herself, her work as a personal injury attorney and what she loves about her job.
Here is our next "Up Close & Personal" feature on Lisa Morell of the law firm, Morell Kelly. Healthy Waterloo Region is committed to bringing awareness to the community about outstanding businesses that focus on helping people in all aspects of health.
Q. How long have you been a lawyer?
I have been practicing law for 24 years. I attended law school at the University of New Brunswick and graduated in 1992. I was called to the Ontario Bar February 1, 1994. I have been practicing exclusively personal injury law since 2004. Prior to that I ran a general litigation practice including court work in child protection matters, criminal and family law matters and general litigation such as cases relating to collections, breach of contract etc.
Q. Why does someone in an accident need a lawyer?
There are a number of reasons why it is advantageous to have a lawyer if you have been hurt in an accident. It is difficult to be self-represented in any legal proceeding and claims relating to car accidents and other personal injuries are no exception.
One of the obvious reasons to have a lawyer is so that you are properly involved with respect to your entitlements and the value of your claim. Too often claimants have no reasonable basis to assess the value of their own claim, they only know that they have been injured as the result of someone else's wrongdoing and that they should be compensated.
If you have been in a car accident what you are entitled to receive from your own insurance company in terms of medical rehabilitation benefits and income replacement benefits is determined by a combination of what is in the policy or contract of insurance and provisions in the Statutory Accident Benefit Schedule which is part of the Insurance Act.
In terms of pain and suffering the amount you will receive as compensation is partly determined by caps imposed on pain and suffering awards by the Courts and amounts awarded in similar cases by courts and juries (jurisprudence). If you are self-represented you will have reduced bargaining power because you may not be familiar with all of the legal concepts involved and you will have no experience in assessing general damages.
Finally, insurers typically contribute 15% plus HST of the award toward your legal costs in addition to paying your out of pocket costs associated with the law suit. Therefore, the cost of having a lawyer involved is typically minimal and outweighed by the benefit the expertise of a lawyer will bring to the table.
Lisa Morell on why you should speak to a lawyer
Q: Won’t my insurance company advise me of these benefits and my entitlements when I make a claim?
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision your own insurer will likely send you out an Application for Accident Benefits. This is a package that contains forms that you, your doctor and your employer need to complete in order to access benefits. This is just the beginning of a time-consuming and document intensive process to access medical rehabilitation benefits you need through your own insurer.
Accessing benefits is a complicated process. If you do not have any fractures you are likely to be put in the Minor Injury Guideline. We can make referrals that will assist you in getting out of the Minor Injury Guideline. While your insurer may also refer you to treatment these referrals are usually to treatment providers on their preferred list.
Before you are in an accident you should ensure that you have purchased optional coverages on your policy. The cost of these upgrades is minimal vs the benefit you will get from them if you are injured in an accident.
Q. What do you think the most important legal issue is facing society today?
I think the most important legal issue facing society today is access to justice. It is becoming increasingly difficult for citizens to access the courts to resolve civil disputes on a timely basis. From a civil perspective we have a loser pay system which means the less successful litigant has to pay the costs of the more successful litigant. While this may make some sense in terms of individuals suing individuals it makes less sense in terms of individual litigants suing multi-million dollar insurance companies. Although there is now cost insurance available to reduce risk associated with adverse cost awards this does nothing to address the issues caused by court delays. Recent decisions have confirmed that for reasons related to the constitution criminal matters take precedence over civil matters….that being said try telling someone hurt in an accident who is running out of money that trial will be in 3 or 4 years.
Q. What is the part of your job that you like the most?
I really like being in a position to help people deal with their problems. I can try to explain things to them they don’t understand about how insurance works and try to find ways to help them get what they need. I also like to be able to give people options in terms of resolving their claims sooner rather than later.
I try to be really up front with my clients in terms of telling them how I think things might end up. I enjoy talking to my clients and answering their questions.
I also think that lawyers have an important role to play in their community as professionals both in terms of being role models for individuals but also in terms of contributing skills and resources to community endeavours.
Morell Kelly p.c. has always been active in supporting community initiatives and we have supported the Kitchener Waterloo Blues Festival, The Brain Injury Association of Waterloo Wellington (Lidz on Kidz), The Indian Mela Festival and currently we are supporters of K-W Oktoberfest where we sponsor Hans and Frieda.
I am always willing to speak at community events and assist in any way I can within our community.
Lisa Morell Kelly - Lisa@morellkelly.com