When it comes to an ICBC report many people ask,”What’s the difference between an ICBC report with a lawyer and an ICBC report without a lawyer . Some people think that if you have nothing to hide you shouldn’t need a lawyer, while others think ICBC may manipulate what you have said if you do not have a lawyer. Ultimately, a healthy balance of cooperation and advocacy is the hallmark of a good personal injury case.
According to the Canadian Bar Association, a claimant should talk to a lawyer before making a personal injury claim. Insurance companies such as ICBC, however fair, are in a conflict of interest when it comes to advising on a personal injury claim.
To better illustrate how different having a lawyer for a personal injury claim really is, we will discuss the basics of what to expect from a personal injury lawyer from the beginning of the claim to the end.
The personal injury lawyer will claim Damages. Damages can be defined as the money awarded to a person as payment for the loss or injury for which another is liable. Damages may include loss of income, diminished homemaking and earning capacity, pain and suffering, cost of care, out of pocket expenses, and interest.
ICBC, on the other hand, will not want to pay damages and may even deny the claim on behalf of the at fault driver. ICBC will often allege that no injury was suffered or that the symptoms are part of a pre-existing congenital defect.
Lawyers will assist with the tort and ICBC claim. Tort Claim: a claim for damages based on a wrongful act, other than a breach of contract, that injures another and for which the law imposes civil liability. Investigative, economic, medical and legal analysis will have to be considered to prove fault and establish legal cause. ICBC Claim: ICBC is required to provide medical and disability benefits to any insured involved in a collision, regardless of fault. The lawyer will deal with ICBC for the claimant so they can focus on getting better.
Making an ICBC claim without a lawyer, will require the claimant to understand how and when benefits are paid. ICBC does not have an obligation to pursue a claim for benefits on behalf of a claimant.
Lawyers handle the lawsuit. If necessary the personal injury lawyer will start a legal proceeding by drafting and filing a “Notice of Civil Claim” in the Court Registry. The lawyer may also name ICBC in a separate breach of contract lawsuit if ICBC doesn’t pay the required benefits.
The lawyer will handle the discovery process. The Examination for Discovery, for example, is an oral pre-trial examination under oath of each of the parties to the lawsuit. The lawyer will cross-examine the at-fault parties if required, prepare you and give the claimant expert legal advice.
Lawyers prepare the case for trial, including getting all relevant documents, arranging witnesses, hiring experts and providing written legal opinions to the judge. Personal injury lawyers act for claimants at trial. When the judge or jury has decided the case, the lawyer will prepare the court order for the judge and demand payment from ICBC.
Lawyers deal with “Costs and Disbursements“. Normally, if successful the claimant will be awarded costs and disbursements. Costs are intended as a partial payment for the legal fees paid by the successful party. Disbursements are the out-of-pocket expenses such as Court fees, witness fees, investigation, and doctors’ fees.
Hopefully this primer provides you with some insight into deciding whether to hire a lawyer for a personal injury claim. Got questions? Leave them in the comments and we’ll give you an answer.