I’ve been hurt in a car accident, what do I do?
If you believe that you did not cause the accident and you have sustained injuries, it may be prudent to consider retaining a lawyer and starting a personal injury action.
Despite their reputation, ICBC can be quite helpful and, for less severe accidents, legal action may not be required. However, when you have been significantly injured, taking legal action may be the only way to ensure that your interests are protected and that you receive fair compensation.
If you are entirely at fault, ICBC has a duty to defend the other insured party’s claim against you (provided that you were insured at the time of the accident and not in breach of your policy). However, be careful in providing statements to ICBC if you believe that the other party might be partially or entirely at fault as these statements may ultimately be used as evidence in the future.
How can a lawyer help me?
A lawyer can assist you in receiving fair compensation at the conclusion of your claim and in receiving proper medical treatment in the interim. Dealing with ICBC and navigating the various documents can be stressful. Retaining the services of a lawyer allows you to make recovering from your injuries your top priority.
How does my lawyer get paid?
Lawyers usually charge an hourly rate or by a contingency fee.
Contingency fees are common in personal injury actions. If your lawyer agrees to accept a contingency fee, he or she will be paid a portion of the amount you eventually recover. In this type of arrangement, you are not required to pay your lawyer until your claim is resolved (which can take months or even years).
According to the Law Society Rules, lawyers cannot charge a contingency fee in excess of 33 1/3% for claims for personal injury arising out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle
Hourly rate arrangements are less common in personal injury actions, but may be used for complicated actions, where there are no significant injuries, or where liability is at issue.
How long do I have to decide whether to make a personal injury claim?
According to the Limitation Act, you have two years from the date of the accident to start a tort action for personal injuries. Ideally, if you choose to retain a lawyer, you will want to do so well in advance of the expiration of the limitation period so that potential settlement can be canvassed and necessary documents can be requested.
Regardless of whether you decide to retain a lawyer, we strongly advise that you wait at least two months, and ideally until all your injury symptoms have resolved, before agreeing to settle your claim with ICBC. As illustration, whiplash-type injuries that do not initially appear to be significant can persist and continue to cause discomfort and impairment for much longer than expected.
For further information, please do not hesitate to contact one of our lawyers with experience in personal injury law.
This blog is for information only, and is not intended as legal advice. If you need legal help, please contact us.