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Personal Injury

Toronto personal injury lawyer enjoys helping the little guy

For Toronto personal injury lawyer David Derfel it's easy to relate to clients who find themselves in hard times after an accident. 

“I grew up in the West End of Toronto, raised by a single mother who worked two jobs to make a better life for me,” explains Derfel, principal of Derfel Injury Lawyers.

“I know how hard it is for the average person to get by. When my clients tell me they’re having a hard time, I can empathize with them. I know what that's like,” Derfel tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“That’s why this type of work is so fulfilling. I get to help people who are going through a rough time see the light at the end of the tunnel. I want to help them get somewhere better.”

He says his working-class upbringing has also helped shape his compassion for his clients.

“Because of how I grew up, I can relate to my clients; I can understand the hardships they’re going through and I have genuine compassion for these people.”

After graduating law school at the University of Windsor, Derfel was called to the Ontario bar in 2002 and soon joined a prominent, mid-sized law firm in Toronto, where he worked for 12 years. It was there that he honed his skills and narrowed his areas of interest, gaining experience in many areas of law.

When he started to practise insurance defence law, Derfel soon realized that his heart was being pulled to the other side of the courtroom.

In 2014, Derfel launched his own law firm that focuses on personal injury clients.

“I enjoy work that allows me to directly see the fruit of my labour. With my work, I get the same satisfaction others get when they create something with their hands. If you paint a room, build a bookshelf or construct a shed, you can look at that project and take pride in knowing you did that. You can actually see the results of your work,” says Derfel.

“I get that same kind of satisfaction in the work that I do. I see the results of what I’ve done and get direct satisfaction from it.”

Derfel says he’s also developed a reputation for delving deep into his clients' lives to get to the heart of the issues.

“I had a client who had been dropped by another lawyer before she came to meet with me. She couldn’t keep appointments and wouldn’t do anything her previous lawyer asked of her.”

After meeting with the woman, Derfel suspected that she was unable to follow instructions or keep appointments because she was affected by a head injury caused by her accident. 

"I found it odd that her previous lawyer lacked patience and understanding for the client when her so-called lack of cooperation was evidence of why she was his client in the first place," he says.

Derfel is also determined to bring civility into civil litigation.

“My motto is to treat everybody with respect, including clients, opposing counsel and adjusters. At the end of the day, we’re all just people trying to work together to achieve the best possible outcome.

“Showing respect doesn’t mean that I give up my client's interests. I can still work for my client in a very polite and courteous way.”

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