When ICBC considers your serious injury minor, private personal injury lawyers top the list of professionals that understand the ICBC minor injury cap criterion. Legal training and experience put lawyers at great advantage when tackling these ICBC claims. It is best to get independent advice before, not after, ICBC evaluates your injury as minor.
Fortunately, because there are really no low cost free legal services available for personal injury claimants, many private injury lawyers agree to take on cases without payment unless they win a settlement or money award. The claimant will have to choose a lawyer or law firm from a shortlist of several very competent and experienced legal advocates. Here is what to look for:
Balance of Experience and Availability
The Law Society of BC regulates lawyers and does not distinguish personal injury lawyers with any special certification or training. The best or top personal injury lawyers are subjective qualities and your best lawyer should compensate for your weaknesses as a claimant in presenting your case to ICBC, the court, or a civil tribunal.
If you do not know the rules and need an advocate, a lawyer with years of ICBC claims experience and courtroom experience is important. If you are familiar with the legislation, regulations and common law you may benefit from a lawyer with more availability than experience.
Acumen for Interpreting Minor Injury
The definition of “minor injury” in an auto injury claim, and the prescribed injuries for the purposes of the definition of “minor injury”, will be interpreted by ICBC to benefit the corporation. A really good personal injury lawyer has reviewed and analysed the Minor Injury Regulations and, with a review of the medical and impairment evidence, will help a claimant establish whether the injury cap applies to the case.
Experience in Serious Impairment Criteria
The new serious impairment criteria includes the requirement that impairments result in substantial inability of the claimant to perform the essential tasks of employment, occupation or profession. Without proper evidence, there is now a legal assumption that all auto injuries are minor.
Injury lawyers have been trained and regulated by the Law Society of BC for over 138 years and have a legal obligation to advocate for the best interest of even the most inarticulate client. Claimants with serious injuries after a car accident should never delay in hiring a lawyer.
Affordable Legal Fees
If you disagree with the ICBC adjuster that you suffered only a Minor Injury you will likely need to add a legal advocate to your team. Reviews from independent sources, legal reputation, courtroom experience, client satisfaction ratings, and cost are relevant to verifying that you have chosen the lawyer right for the case.
The factors to be considered in determining the need for a lawyer when ICBC applies the Minor Injury Cap include the complexity of the case, the difficulty in establishing liability, the amount likely to be recovered, the time involved in completing the claim, the potential risk of not recovering the fees or disbursements, nature of the injury, and the special knowledge required by the facts of the case. The best personal injury lawyer for your injury claim will take these factors into account before providing you with legal support and advice.
Finally, the cost of the lawyer may be on an hourly, flat fee, or percentage basis for injury claims subject to the minor injury cap . Lawyers may require retainers and flat fees to provide legal advice for ICBC injury cap claims. Lawyer’s time and advice are their stock in trade so experienced lawyers with a proven track record of success will be on the top of the pay scale and less experienced lawyers will be closer to the bottom. Contingency fee agreements with law firms can insulate a claimant from the cost of having an experienced lawyer on the team.
Lawyers in British Columbia are the only professionals required to acquire and maintain knowledge of: substantive law; the practice and procedures by which that substantive law can be effectively applied; and skills to represent the client’s best interest. Many lawyers will still agree to speak with a claimant for free, so always use the free advice.
Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.- Providing advice to injury claimants since 1995. Available by appointment.