As a personal injury lawyer in Vancouver since 1995 the top questions I still get asked before getting hired are about legal experience and fees. In today’s article I want to address the credentials to look for when hiring a personal injury lawyer in British Columbia.
Claimants looking for the “best personal injury lawyer”, whether in Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby or anywhere else in BC should understand that there is no special accreditation in British Columbia for personal injury lawyers. In fact the lawyer you choose is only required to be a lawyer in good standing with the Law Society of British Columbia. Importantly however, the Law Society does not make lawyer referrals and choosing a good personal injury lawyer for your case will take some leg work. I have written extensively on finding the right personal injury lawyer and I’ll break it down:
1. Work Experience –
An experienced personal injury lawyer worth his or her salt will save you time and money. However, legal fees for personal injury lawyers are regulated in BC so even the most experienced lawyer can only charge up to one-third of what you recover for car accident injury cases. As lawyers gain work experience the hourly rate they charge however will go up. This is to recognize that more experienced lawyers can do the same job in much less time and provide the same or better quality services as a less experienced lawyer.
2. Legal Education-
Despite a lawyers years of practice ongoing legal education is important to address. Lawyers in BC are now required to complete 12 hours of continuing professional development and at least two of the 12 hours must pertain to professional responsibility and ethics, client care and relations, or practice management. Again, there is no specific legal education for personal injury lawyers and experience is gained through on the job training.
3. The Personal Injury Law Firm-
Does the lawyer’s law firm represent ICBC or other insurance companies in other injury cases? Will the law firm’s representation of ICBC in another case have an impact on how your case is settled or resolved? Vancouver Law Firms that work for ICBC are usually prohibited from suing ICBC for bad faith which will limit the legal argument they can make on your behalf . These lawyers have a duty to inform you about this but make sure you ask the lawyer whether the law firm works for ICBC.
Here are three claims that you should treat with caution when looking for a personal injury lawyer:
1. Court Awards in Specific Cases-
High court awards do not always mean that the lawyer has experience that is right for your personal injury case. Find out whether the lawyer has dealt with cases involving similar personal injuries and if they are familiar with the medical specialists in that area. Getting the highest in your case is about the facts not results in other cases. I have dealt with a lot of very large personal injury cases and found it is also the cases that are worth under $200,000 that can require applied legal expertise.
2. Legal Expertise with No Legal Training-
Avoid people our community that offer legal services for a fee, without being members of the Law Society of BC. It is illegal to provide legal services in Vancouver and the rest of BC if you are not a lawyer and approved by the Law Society. These people are also not insured, unlike lawyers, in the event they make an error. All lawyers in BC are required to have professional liability coverage to protect clients.
3. Private Lawyer Referral Services-
The private lawyer referral services are not law firms and do not have the same legal and ethical obligations that lawyers and law firms are required to have in British Columbia. The lawyer referral services will often charge a lawyer a fee to be put on the list without verifying the experience of the lawyer.
The lawyer referral service run by the Canadian Bar Association is the only referral service I would recommend if you cannot find a lawyer for your personal injury case.
Learn more and put some injury lawyers on your top list:
Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.