I have been hired as a personal injury lawyer for claimants dealing with ICBC at every different phase of a personal injury case: Immediately after the car accident, months after the injury, or even after the claimant has hired another lawyer. There are certainly better points in a case to have the benefit of legal advice than others. This article is written for injury claimants that have been injured in a car accident within the last two years and for their friends and family. If the car accident, bike accident, pedestrian injury, etc. occurred more than two years ago you may have serious legal problems in pursuing a personal injury claim and read no further, speak to a lawyer immediately!
Two factors to consider, of many, in the timing of hiring a lawyer after a car accident to deal with ICBC are; (1) complexity of the injury claim and, (2) Liability for the car accident.
With respect to complexity, if the injury claimant has multiple medical conditions that pre-dated the accident, legal causation will be be more difficult to prove without a lawyer. If there are no real issues of fault for the accident hire the personal injury right away. This avoids statements to ICBC being taken out of context and allows the lawyer to review the medical records to protect confidentiality and to make sure only documents that are relevant to the issues are disclosed.
When liability, or fault, is a major issue in a personal injury case, an experienced lawyer can steer a proper investigation striking a balance for the client between cost and necessity. Often the current state of the law will have to be reviewed in light of the evidence in the particular case.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer within the first 30 days will allow the lawyer to make you accident benefits claim on your behalf without having you sign a statement that is not required. Hiring a lawyer within the first 90 days will allow the lawyer to provide ICBC with your Accident Claim Form within the time requirements set out in the legislation. If it has been less than a year since your injury there is still a lot of advice regarding pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses and claims that a lawyer will provide. Reports and other documents may also have to be commissioned before settlement negotiations can begin in earnest with ICBC.
If the car accident occurred more than one year ago, but less than two, the claimant should call a lawyer for a free consultation right away. Evidence and expert opinion need to be gathered, deadlines need to be met, investigation may need to be completed. At this phase in a case if a claimant is still suffering the effects of the personal injury there is really no reason to continue without a lawyer.
Find out more about how injury lawyers get paid and browse the other ICBC related topics.
Posted by personal injury lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B