An individual injured in a vehicle accident is faced with the issue of whether or not to hire a personal injury lawyer. People tend to stay away from lawyers because of the perception that they are expensive. However, in the case of ICBC claims, often they are a necessary component of the claim.
If ICBC was prepared to offer full value of the claim to unrepresented claimants then there would be a lot less lawyers practicing in the area of personal injury litigation. However, since most ICBC adjusters are trying to keep their “severities” (the amount they pay per claim) down you are unlikely to get an offer from ICBC that represents the full value of the claim. Hence, using a personal injury lawyer almost always gets you more money at the end of the claim than without a lawyer.
In some situations, hiring a personal injury lawyer immediately after the vehicle accident is important. Some of the circumstances include:
- The death of a family member in the car accident;
- A serious injury requiring hospitalization;
- Where liability for the accident is in question and you suffered moderate to severe injuries;
- Where ICBC is denying a claim because of the nature of the collision (low velocity impact) and you suffered more than a minor injury; OR
- Where there is an anticipation of permanent injury to you resulting in a loss of future earning or the need for future care.
The reason being, the personal injury lawyer needs to carry out early investigation before evidence is lost and also needs to obtain a series of expert reports to ensure that the claim is fully developed. Further, the advice given by a lawyer throughout the early stages of the case is usually helpful in ensuring you are heading in the right direction to best document your injuries.
Although a personal injury lawyer usually provides a legal bill based on a percentage of recovery from ICBC, in the vast majority of cases, the lawyer will definitely obtain an offer from ICBC well in excess of what you can do on your own. Therefore, in most cases you are likely to yield a greater net recovery with a lawyer, after you pay him/her legal fees, then you can get without a lawyer. Also, you have the peace of mind that you are getting a reasonable offer from ICBC and further, you can avoid having to deal directly with ICBC.
There are personal injury claims for which it may not be beneficial to hire a lawyer. For example, if you have suffered a soft tissue injury which only lasts for a few months, you generally don’t need a lawyer. In that type of case, you might be able to convince the adjuster to provide a reasonable settlement proposal to you and then you can settle the case for a reasonable dollar.
Most injury lawyers will provide a free consultation so it is worth your effort to walk into a lawyer’s office and get a general idea of the value of your case and their assessment of whether or not an offer from ICBC is reasonable. Often, injury lawyers will agree to charge legal fees on only the settlement amount above the original offer from ICBC. This means that regardless of what happens with your claim, you will stand to obtain a greater net recovery with a lawyer than you would without a lawyer.
In summary, the system has evolved to the point where using an injury lawyer is often a necessary requirement to getting a fair settlement for your claim. There are, of course, some exceptions where an adjuster will offer full value without legal representation, but that definitely is not a common practice.
Contact Mussio Law Group – premier Vancouver personal injury lawyers – serving the entire province of British Columbia.
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