I have written extensively on the best way to find a lawyer for an ICBC claim and as the boss of a personal injury law firm in Vancouver I have had to consistently update the firm with leading ethical guidelines and strive for the highest client satisfaction. This article will focus on the “when, where, and hows” of finding a personal injury lawyer in the wake of a new report on ICBC and the recommendations the Corporation intends to follow.
Concerning is the BC Internal Audit and Advisory Services (IAAS) report recommendation that ICBC rely more heavily on their internal team of lawyers as a top priority to save money as opposed to treating claimants more fairly in the settlement process.
When it comes to ICBC injury claims (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) the IAAS report released August, 2012 found that between 2000 and 2011 ICBC more than doubled their legal team costs for denying and defending bodily injury claims. The report also found that 85 % of injury claimants have to get a lawyer to assist them if they expect settlements or court awards of more than $20,000.00. It appears the cards are stacked against claimants that do not have the benefit of a lawyer.
These realities make it even more important that injury claimants have access to a pool of unbiased, fair, competent, and experienced personal injury lawyers to help level the playing field in settlement and supreme court process when confronted with ICBC on the other side.
Just as many people are looking for the best lawyer for their case, I have often been asked to recommend the best family doctor. It is usually the case that I will receive varying reviews about one doctor, despite the doctor providing the same service. Some personalities and temperaments are more compatible than others and, unless competence and experience are in issue, picking a doctor is matter of personal preference and practicality. The same applies to finding a personal injury lawyer for your case.
1. When to Look- Obtaining indepedent legal advice should be top of mind so contact a lawyer right away. Get a free legal consultation to determine whether you need a lawyer and find out what steps you can take to protect your case if you do not improve. If you have not hired a lawyer and need to respond to an ICBC offer it is best to speak to a lawyer before responding to ICBC.
2. Where to Look- Importantly, your lawyer does not have to be close to your home and it may be better that your lawyer is in a premium location, where they have quick and cheap access to courts, registries, and legal research services. It does not matter where you live. Find a personal injury lawyer that practises in British Columbia. Some lawyers from other Provinces are able to take your case legally but, in my experience, it is difficult to keep up with the changes in the law, and keep them top of mind, when these changes occur outside of the Province the lawyer principally works.
3. How Much to Pay- Personal injury lawyers are regulated the Law Society of BC. Take a read of my article about how personal injury lawyers are paid in BC. Also check out the Canadian Bar Association website as they have some first rate information about finding a lawyer for your case.
It is an achievement for a personal injury lawyer to take a case to trial in the supreme court and obtain and award for a client when ICBC refuses to pay a reasonable amount. Ask the lawyers that make it to the top of your list whether they have ever taken a personal injury case to trial. If you are looking for a lawyer to appeal a court decision you may want to find a lawyer that has had some experience in the BC Court of Appeal.
If you are the friend or family member of a injury claimant or you have suffered a personal injury I would be happy to assist you on this and any other related topic. Posted by personal injury lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.