As a personal injury lawyer in British Columbia I have been asked many times from injury claimants whether it’s worth it to hire a lawyer for their injury claim. Most of these claimants are fighting with ICBC or another insurance company due to a car accident, slip and fall or other injury and believe they cannot afford a lawyer. Most injury claimants have never hired a car accident lawyer and are intimidated at the idea of hiring a lawyer. It’s a bad idea to settle your injury claim without speaking with an injury lawyer. Most lawyers experienced in settling injury claims will agree to talk with you for free to consider your case. There are three important questions to ask yourself before settling your injury claim without a lawyer:
1. Does the medical opinion identify a diagnosis and prognosis for my injury and am I being compensated for that condition? Some injuries improve quickly only to re-occur over and over again. If you settle it will be very hard or impossible to get more money if your injury gets worse after settlement. ICBC, as all other insurance companies, will get you to sign a release preventing you from suing again in the future for the same injury.
2. Have my future losses been included in the settlement? Cost of future care, diminished homemaking and earning capacity are a few examples of future losses that should be considered in any settlement where the condition will be ongoing or may re-occur. ICBC settlements are unique in that ICBC is a government created insurance company that can use your prior claims history to accept or deny future claims.
3. Am I settling all my claims against the insurance company and the person at fault for my injury? Typically in British Columbia you will have two or more injury claims, one against ICBC as your insurer and another against the at fault driver, usually also insured by ICBC under third party liability coverage. Know what you are settling.
If you answered no to any of these questions or do not understand the question then you should be talking to a lawyer before settling your injury case. ICBC has had problems with the way they handle driving records and your releasing of all your private medical information to ICBC without a lawyer may be used against you in a subsequent injury claim. Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness