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What is a tort claim, and what does it involve?

Anyone in Ontario can pursue a civil lawsuit against a person or entity that caused him or her injuries. Such a claim is known as a personal injury, or tort claim. It requires the victim, or plaintiff, to prove to the court that the defendant was negligent and at least partially at fault for causing the car accident or another incident that led to personal injury. Tort claims are typically filed in provincial court.

Personal injury lawsuits can involve automobile collisions or other accidents; premises liability claims often follow slip-and-fall accidents; products liability claims address injuries caused by defective products; and medical malpractice lawsuits involve negligence in the health care field. The burden of proof with respect to these claims is on the plaintiff, and tort claims could take months or even years to finalize. Multiple parties can be named as defendants; for instance, in cases products liability claims, the entire consumer supply chain could be sued.

The first step in a tort claim is to file the complaint, a pleading that details the claim and the remedy sought in the court, to which the defendant can file a defence statement. This is followed by the discovery process that allows the respective parties access to each other's evidence. The final step is the trial during which the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care and was negligent in a manner that caused personal injury.

This is a complicated field of the law, and these basic notes do not include all the legal intricacies that make any tort claim challenging to navigate. For this reason, personal injury victims in Ontario typically utilize the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Legal counsel can first assess the viability of a claim, and then provide support and guidance throughout ensuing legal proceedings.

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