Do I need a lawyer? Should I wait to see how ICBC treats me first before I considering hiring a lawyer? These are common questions we are asked when someone has suffered an injury and is seeking compensation for the injury.
The short answer is yes, you 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).
As you likely know, ICBC is British Columbia's universal insurer. It is likely that if you are involved in a collision in British Columbia that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia ("ICBC") will be the insurance company you deal with.
ICBC would very much prefer if you simply just skipped the hiring a lawyer part and negotiated with them yourself. Why is that? Because, like we said, it is likely that ICBC will pay out less money if they deal directly with you than if you hire a lawyer.
Obviously we cannot make any guarantees as every case is different. At the same time it is our experience that clients get more money when they hire us compared to what they get when they negotiate with ICBC themselves.
That is what we, at Hemminger Law Group Westshore, think. Of course we know this may sound totally self-serving because it is coming from a law firm that practices in the area of personal injury law.
At the same time, we believe what we are saying because it is true. A person will need a lawyer so their interests are represented and represented well.
Now that we have told you that you need a lawyer. We will tell you why.
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, did she need a lawyer? Yes, definitely.
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 us, her settlement was in excess of $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 with respect to your personal injury matter. Even if it isn’t with us. A good lawyer will look after your interests.
By Val Hemminger, personal injury lawyer