As a personal injury lawyer in British Columbia since 1995 I have been interviewed countless times by car accident claimants looking to choose the right lawyer. An injury claimant confessed to me recently that he needed legal help but did not know what questions to ask before he hired a personal injury lawyer. Today I want to address, from my own personal view, three important inquiries to make before hiring a personal injury lawyer. When trying to find a personal injury lawyer here are three important questions to ask:
Question #1- Are you a member in good standing with the Law Society of British Columbia?
All personal injury lawyers in BC are regulated by the Law Society of BC to protect the public by setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct for lawyers. You can always contact the Law Society directly to confirm whether the lawyer is able to practice in British Columbia.
Question #2- Do you have any experience representing car accident claimants against ICBC (the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia)?
Remember that most BC drivers that are at fault are insured with ICBC so ICBC is the insurance company for the other driver and has a duty to defend that driver against your legal injury claim. Furthermore you, the injury claimant, may also have “no-fault” accident benefits with ICBC. Try to hire a lawyer that only works on personal injury including ICBC injury claim matters as they are best able to keep up to date on the daily changes in the law and have often acquired an in depth understanding of the subject matter.
Question #3- Are there any restrictions in your ability as a lawyer to represent me against ICBC in a personal injury claim?
Some lawyers that work for ICBC have signed agreements with ICBC preventing them from suing ICBC for bad faith. In fact under this agreement ICBC can fire the lawyer if he or she makes a prohibited claim against ICBC on behalf of the claimant. Ask the lawyer whether he or she has signed a “strategic alliance agreement” with ICBC and if so avoid hiring that lawyer if you intend on claiming against ICBC for bad faith or hope to get punitive damage compensation from ICBC.
There are also other questions you may want to ask a personal injury lawyer when choosing a lawyer. Ultimately, select a lawyer that you have confidence in as you will need to be able to accept the lawyer’s advice.
Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.