Do I need a lawyer? Or should I deal with ICBC myself? A lot of people who have suffered an injury will want to know the answer to this question. A question like this is very common when a person has an ICBC claim. ICBC is the insurance company we, as British Columbians, most often deal with if you have a personal injury claim resulting from a car accident in British Columbia.
Here is the bold truth: ICBC would very much prefer if you skipped the hiring a lawyer part and negotiated with them yourself. This Blawg Post explains why.
Our short answer is yes. Did you hear us say . . . yes?! Yes, you do! That is what we think anyways. Of course, we know this may sound totally self-serving because it is coming from a lawyer who works in a law office. It is coming from a lawyer who works in a law office and that law office happens to do represent clients in personal injury matters. Of course, it is self-serving. At the same time, it is also in your best interest as an injured person to at least consult with a lawyer and find out if they can help you.
We say this even if you don't come to our firm. We want you to get the legal information you need in order to make an informed decision. Most law firms will give you a free consultation with respect to your personal injury matter, so we suggest that you utilize this opportunity and get some advice.
I believe in what I am saying because it is true. A person will need a lawyer, to represent their interests well. In our experience, time and again, we see that your lawyer will likely help you get more money for your injuries than if you go it alone.
Of course, most people know that becoming a lawyer is not a quick and easy process. We spend years in school, do an apprenticeship and finally, write the bar exam. The Law Society of British Columbia is the governing body in British Columbia that gives lawyers our licenses to practice law.
After all the training we spend years practicing law, we get better and more experienced all the time. It is this experience and the access to the analysis required in relation to the case law decisions that give us the leverage we need when dealing with insurance companies like ICBC. ICBC knows that lawyers likely have access to the law about what judges have said in other personal injury cases.
ICBC also knows that you, the lay person, are unlikely to have access to the case law decisions or at least a clear understanding in how to apply them. They also know you are likely inexperienced in preparing a case for court (or negotiation) in an ICBC matter. This is why people ask, "Do I need a lawyer?"
In our view, as the client, you are almost always going to be in a better position with the professional assistance of a lawyer than you would have been if you did not hire one. This is even after you take into account the fact that you have paid your lawyer by way of a contingency fee agreement (most often the way we get paid with ICBC Claims and other personal injury lawsuits).
Although at Hemminger Law Group Westshore, we cannot guarantee this is always going to be the case (and we don’t make that guarantee), what we can say over and over again is that in our experience, our clients do better than they would have done had they not hired a lawyer.
Over the years, we have seen many examples:
The young woman who was offered $20,000 and she thought it was an awesome deal. She suffered a mild traumatic brain injury and other problems. Her Mom made her get legal advice. It took 18 more months, but she ended up with $200,000+ in her jeans even after the lawyers were paid (this was a serious accident with serious injuries). So, she asked us, "Do I need a lawyer?" We said, yes, we think so.
The older man in his mid-70s with some soft tissue injuries was offered $3,500 by ICBC’s adjustors. He thought that was okay, but sought some legal advice. He ended up with $20,000 as a settlement and more than $14,000 net to him. He is now back playing his golf game and loving it. He also has some extra money to winter in Arizona next year.
The older woman in her mid 70s who was offered $3,500 and she thought she might take that offer. After seeking legal advice and hiring us, we got her $20,000 after only a couple months of negotiation. Now she is back in her retired lifestyle, spending it and enjoying it.
The mother of 3 who suffered some soft-tissue injuries and was frightened to drive after the collision. ICBC offered her $6,500. After obtaining legal advice and representation from Hemminger Law Group Westshore, her settlement was more than $65,000.
Although we can’t make a guarantee that you will do better with your claim, and every claim is different, we can say without a doubt that we highly recommend you seek legal advice on your personal injury matter. Even if it isn’t with us, what we know is that a good lawyer will look after your interests.
So, if you ever find yourself asking the question, "Do I need a lawyer?", talk to one, to find out.
Written by Val Hemminger, the long-suffering law boss at Hemminger Law Group Westshore.
Hemminger Law Group Westshore - Lawyers with heart! Providing Family law and Personal Injury law services to the Westshore and beyond (Langford, Westshore, Colwood, View Royal, Sooke, and Victoria)!