About Matthew Blimke:
Matthew Blimke BA, JD, is one of the lawyers helping to bring PainWorth to life—giving anyone with a personal injury claim a better understanding of and better access to the justice system. He practices commercial and business law at Prowse Chowne LLP in Edmonton, Alberta, and also has experience in personal injury law and litigation/dispute resolution.
PainWorth was created when one of the co-founders, Mike Zouhri, was injured in a car accident by a drunk driver. Zouhri—who is not a lawyer—turned to traditional personal injury lawyers for help and quickly noticed major problems in the process. For instance, he was unable to get a quick, consistent answer of what his claim might be worth. Frustrated, Zouhri worked with his co-founders and team to create the PainWorth web-app. PainWorth’s advanced algorithm helps other personal injury claimants find out what their personal injury claim might be worth, help claimants settle their case faster, and with more transparency.
A) What do injured victims need when seeking compensation in the Court of Law?
It’s important to note that the majority of personal injury claims never see the inside of a courtroom but instead settle outside of Court and before trial (99.97% of the time, in fact). But it is also true that in most cases, you will need to file your claim in Court prior to obtaining a settlement.
The first step is usually to file a claim at the Court, stating basic facts:
- What events led to the injury?
- What parties were involved?
- Who was responsible for the events occurring?
- What injuries occurred?
- What compensation is sought?
In all cases, evidence to prove the facts is obviously important. This starts with gathering information at the scene of the injury, and keeping good medical and treatment records, saving receipts for prescriptions, medical exams, paramedical providers, etc.
It is also important to understand (and get good advice about) how the court system works and how the law applies to the facts—what compensation will the law give you? Who will be responsible to provide that compensation? Because most cases settle, you need to have a good understanding of the answers to these questions and be prepared to negotiate.
B) What are the challenges of injured victims, and how to tackle them?
Just a point of clarification, we don’t want to refer to anyone as a victim—as it removes their agency—instead, we prefer the terms claimants or injured persons.
Injured persons do suffer, and we want to support and empower them to the greatest extent possible. We want to recognize that being injured, living with an injury, working through treatments, trying to heal, and of course the mental and physical trauma associated from the events that caused an injury, are major challenges on their own. On top of that, seeking compensation often requires learning and navigating a complex system of courts, lawyers, insurance companies, and adjusters. It can be time consuming, confusing, and expensive.
PainWorth’s main function is to provide an objective, third-party calculation of monetary compensation for a specific set of injuries—one that can be trusted and relied upon by everyone involved in the injury compensation system: which includes the injured claimants, the lawyers for both the defendant and the claimant, the insurance companies involved.
We think this is a big first step in simplifying the process of compensation for everyone involved. It can greatly reduce the amount of time and negotiation required to reach a fair settlement. And lastly, it helps claimants—who often have the least amount of information about how everything works and where the numbers come from.
C) How do you approach personal injury claimants and make them feel comfortable?
We’ve endured the process ourselves. One of our co-founders was actually hit by a drunk driver—which is where the need for PainWorth came from—so we understand how our users feel. We showcase that we know how and intimately understand how frustrating the situation can seem and that we have direct emotional experience with it.
People are most uncomfortable when they feel confused, don’t know the process, aren’t sure what steps to take, have no clarity on timelines or are unable to do any expectation setting. So we aim to address those pain points.
People generally become more comfortable as they better understand their own situation and are able to visualize a roadmap of how the process of settling a personal injury claim is laid out, and what their next steps may look like.
People generally want to understand what sort of expectations they should have, what steps are required, and the timelines they should prepare for.
Even though we do not present advice or personalized information, we do explain the general process in plain English, in a way that is easy to follow and understand, with easy steps and methodology.
We also provide our users with simple tools that they can use to calculate and justify their negotiation position.
And it’s not just car accidents either, many people are using our tool to help them with their medical malpractice claims, slip and fall claims, and assault and battery claims.
D) What do personal injury claimants seek or expect from your service? E) What are the main pain points of injured individuals face in this process?
A lot of people who contact PainWorth are frustrated with how complex, expensive, and time consuming the injury compensation process is and they turn to us as a way to save time, money, and frustration.
Many users come to us because they have spent years on their case and gotten nowhere or because their negotiation has come to an impasse. Others come because they are locked out of the justice system, because they can’t find a lawyer to take their case, and they have nowhere else to turn.
Many people involved in a personal injury are desperate for a resolution. We can’t solve all the world’s problems (yet), but we have high hopes that our calculators will empower folks and catalyze change in the system, and there are good early indications that this is happening.
Although we don’t give legal advice specific to a person’s situation, we do also aim to become a source of highly accurate and reliable information about the injury compensation system. We also want to create a place through our personal injury user forum where people with similar experiences can connect, share, and support each other through the process.
F) What is the expiry duration of filing a settlement claim?
It varies by jurisdiction. It’s 2 years in many Canadian Provinces and U.S. States, but it is important to get good legal advice from somebody qualified in your jurisdiction.
G) How will you explain mitigation to the court and attorneys?
In the personal injury context, it’s simple: an injured person should do everything they reasonably can to heal their injuries and minimize their damages. This means going to appointments, following your doctor’s recommendations, and replacing lost employment or income when/if possible.
H) How long does it take for the court to settle the matter?
Traditionally, from the date of an accident to the date of a trial, anywhere from 3-8 years is common.
According to our statistics and proprietary data science, most personal injury claims that settle in court historically take an average of 5 years to reach a resolution without PainWorth, and sometimes as long as 23 years.
But most claims settle somewhere along the process before trial. Regardless of it you reach a settlement before or after trial, we think that our tools will make timelines significantly faster for everyone.
Early indications have suggested that PainWorth users are resolving their own cases 90% faster.
I) Can the victim file the legal claim without third-party assistance?
It depends on the jurisdiction. But in general, yes—in most places it is possible to file a claim without a lawyer.
J) Should injured victims hire a professional lawyer or focus on filing the legal claim themselves?
PainWorth, as a company, doesn’t give legal advice, and answering this question requires specific information advice and reasoning that every person should seek for themselves.
For some people, self-representation makes the most sense and for some people hiring a lawyer is the best choice.
We encourage everyone to at least get a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer (or two or three) early in the process. Then you can also use our app to find out more information about what your personal claim might be worth.
Once you’ve done your own research, you can better decide what’s best for you.
K) What is your best advice for the victims who are planning to file the claim in court?
Be certain what your limitation deadline is and don’t procrastinate.
In many Canadian provinces and US States, the expiry duration for filing a settlement claim is 2 years, but it is important to get good legal advice from somebody qualified in your jurisdiction.
In many cases, doctors involved are able to give a confident long-term prognosis about 6-12 months after the date of the accident, so many claims are filed around then.
L) Do the judges consider the victim’s trauma in personal injury cases?
Yes, settlement amounts or court awards for pain and suffering may consider a person’s emotional or psychological trauma related to an injury. Separate awards for psychological and emotional damage do exist, but like any injury, you will need to provide good evidence about the injury– such as professional assessments.
It’s important to acknowledge that injury compensation aims to put a person back into the position that they would have been if they never were injured – but money can never do that perfectly.
M) How to start a negotiation in a legal claim battle?
Simple—use our letter template inside of our app to generate and send a letter, marked “without prejudice” making a settlement offer, and wait for the other side to accept! Sometimes this is called a demand letter and sometimes this is called a notice letter.
…OK, it’s not quite so simple. You need to know who to send the offer to—in the case of a motor vehicle accident, this could include the other driver, the registered owner of the vehicle, the employer other party, and/or even the city who maintains the roads.
You also need to know how much to ask for, and how much you are willing to accept in a counter-offer. You should also be prepared to justify your numbers and provide evidence of your claims. That’s the beauty of Painworth. It is unbiased, and its assessments of the monetary compensation value of your injury are transparent and can be trusted by all sides.
Most negotiations often do involve directly suing the other party involved in your injury event, and in many cases their insurance company will actually negotiate on their behalf.