Experienced personal injury lawyer team
Book a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. We have 5 offices throughout the Fraser Valley – Langley, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Surrey and Aldergrove.
More Details About Our Personal Injury Legal Services
Injury cases we handle:
- Car accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Bicycle accidents; and
- Pedestrian accidents.
We have experience getting people compensation for all types of injuries including:
- Back injuries
- Fractured and broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Psychological injuries
- Burn injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Personal Injury Law in BC
Most personal injury cases in BC involve ICBC because most negligence claims causing injury stem from traffic accidents. Since ICBC is the province-wide insurer, chances are your injury claim involves ICBC.
If you’ve been dealing with ICBC on your own, please read our extensive article on dealing with ICBC with injury cases here.
That said, slip and fall, dog bites, assaults and other premises-related injuries do not involve ICBC and are in fact personal injury claims.
2 Aspects to Any Personal Injury Case
There are 2 aspects to any personal injury case. They are:
Fault refers to “who is negligent?” You can still recover compensation if you aren’t 100% at-fault.
Sometimes fault isn’t in issue if the defendant admits fault. A common example is if you’re vehicle is hit from behind. In most of these cases, ICBC (assuming they’re the insurance company for the defendant), will admit fault.
If fault isn’t in issue, the case is purely a “quantum” case, which refers to how much compensation is owing to an injured claimant (called a plaintiff).
Amount of Compensation
Just because fault is not in issue doesn’t mean a personal injury lawsuit is simple. Assessing the amount of compensation can be a complex process, especially when injuries are long-term and/or permanent.
It’s a personal injury lawyer’s responsibility to work with medical evidence, experts, witnesses and the injured client to assess the amount of compensation a client should receive. Legal research is also required in most cases (i.e. to see what Courts have awarded in similar cases previously).
Most people start an ICBC claim on their own unless badly hurt. What often happens is ICBC makes a low offer or starts denying to pay for treatment which gives an injured claimant no choice but to hire a lawyer. However, some injured car accident victims hire a lawyer immediately.
Frankly, I recommend hiring a lawyer as soon as possible. Fortunately, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency, which means the legal fees are a percentage of the amount of compensation recovered. Moreover, most ICBC injury lawyers offer free consultations. There’s really no downside to hiring a lawyer.
Another great reason for hiring a lawyer (other than to obtain fair compensation) is they’ll take care of the paperwork for you and will deal with ICBC on your behalf. Advancing an ICBC injury claim requires a lot of work which takes time. It can also be confusing and extremely stressful (you’ll likely second-guess everything you do … whereas a good injury lawyer knows what to do).
ICBC is not THE decision-maker
Fortunately, you have recourse if you don’t agree with ICBC’s position (such as the amount of compensation they offer you). You can take your case to court and let a judge or jury decide. Many people don’t know this and take ICBC’s decisions as the be-all and end-all.
If you decide to start a lawsuit, ICBC will hire a lawyer to defend the case on behalf of the defendant (person who you allege caused the traffic accident). The lawsuit proceeds similarly to any other type of lawsuit in BC.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer
Hiring a lawyer can be easy or difficult.
It can be difficult if your case is deemed “low velocity impact”. This means your case has a higher likelihood of going to trial and even if successful, likely won’t amount to a great deal of compensation. For these reasons, many lawyers won’t take them on.
If you’re hurt badly (which is bad for you), you’ll have no shortage of injury attorneys willing to take on your case. Therefore, make your decision hiring a car accident personal injury lawyer carefully because serious injuries means your life can be adversely impacted for many years. You will need sufficient compensation … which in many cases a great personal injury lawyer can do very well for you.
Hiring a lawyer (Abbotsford, Langley, Maple Ridge and Surrey) can be difficult if there’s a good chance you’re largely or partly at-fault. Again, many lawyers don’t take on cases where fault is in issue because they may end up working for no fee. Don’t be surprised if you have a hard time finding a lawyer to take on your case if you there’s a probable chance you’ll be found at-fault at trial.
Finally, finding the best lawyer for your case can be hard because it’s a big decision for you and you want to make the right decision. You want to feel comfortable with your lawyer, but more importantly you want to have confidence in him or her.
Most injury lawyers offer a free consultation. There’s no need to pay for a consultation given that most don’t charge for a consultation.
Contingency Fees – No Win No Fee Legal Fees
Most injury lawyers charge legal fees for injury cases based on the outcome. If you recover no money, the lawyer receives no legal fee. If you recover X amount, the lawyer’s fee is a percentage of that amount. You and your lawyer agree upon the percentage before you hire that lawyer. Usually lawyers have their stated percentage amount.
Getting treatment for your injuries
If you’ve been in a car accident, you’ll have some or all of your treatment paid for by ICBC as part of your insurance coverage. However, don’t expect a blank cheque. It can be frustrating given you’ll likely pay user fees and not all treatment is covered.
This is where a lawyer can help you out a great deal. Well-funded injury lawyers get their clients better treatment faster. This is in the case of more severe injuries that aren’t healing. Some lawyers will pay for treatment (but not all).
Personal Injury Compensation
The amount of compensation varies from case-to-case. It depends on the nature of your injuries, severity, duration and financial impact.
When assessing compensation, BC Courts look at categories of compensation (also called heads of damage). The common categories of compensation are as follows:
- Wage loss compensation (past and/or future)
- Pain and Suffering
- Cost of Future Care
- Out-of-Pocket Expenses (Special Damages)
- Loss of opportunity
Personal injury lawsuit process in British Columbia
The lawsuit process is straight-foward (I guess for me as a lawyer) … but it may seem foreign to you. Your lawyer will explain each step.
Not every case goes to trial. In fact, few do.
Moreover, the process may resolve quickly (by way of settlement or fast-track litigation) or it may take years (literally years). Generally, more severe injuries take longer to resolve because of the more comprehensive medical needs.
Step 1: File a claim
The lawsuit starts by filing a claim. The defendant will file a defence (called a Reply).
Step 2: Discovery
Your lawyer and the lawyer for ICBC will exchange relevant documents. This is not pleasant because your life via documents such as school records, medical documents, employment files, etc. will be shared with the other side. They are under obligations of confidentiality, but it’s still not pleasant having sensitive information about you shared.
The last part of discovery involves you answering questions from the lawyer hired by ICBC. You answers are recorded and they are under oath. Again, not a pleasant day unless you like talking about every aspect of yourself and reliving the crash. Nevertheless, it’s a required part of the process (unless you pursue your claim in Small Claims Court).
Step 3: Mediation
Pretty much every injury claim includes one mediation session. This is held once discovery is complete (sometimes sooner, but not often). Once ICBC knows your case, they’re prepared for mediation and to offer you what you hope to be sufficient compensation. Many cases resolve at mediation or shortly after the mediation … but again, not all cases.
Step 4: Trial
If you still haven’t settled your injury claim, you go to trial and hand over the decision-making power to a judge or jury. Some trials last weeks (or months) while most 3 to 10 days. It’s a difficult process … but fortunately you play a small part. Most of the trial involves testimony from your doctors, witnesses and other experts. Nevertheless, you will likely be called upon to give evidence.
Do not let the process frighten or intimidate you
I know it seems like a lot … and it can be. However, many cases resolve quickly. If you have an experienced and skilled lawyer, it will make the process much easier and you’ll be at ease … for the most part. Therefore, make your hiring decision carefully because it makes all the difference.