Choosing the right ICBC lawyer to represent you with your ICBC claim is important.
It is essential that you choose an ICBC lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced in the field of personal injury law. This area of law is intricate and it requires a level of skill to navigate the many legal issues that arise with ICBC. The legal advice you receive immediately upon hiring your ICBC lawyer, as well as throughout the claims process, and the decisions made by your ICBC will make a dramatic difference in protecting your rights, ensuring fairness and ultimately in the outcome.
It is also important that you feel comfortable with who you choose to represent you with your ICBC claim. ICBC claims often take a while to resolve, so feeling at ease with your ICBC lawyer is important as your relationship will likely last several months or even years and he/she will be privy to personal information about you. Being well informed about the claims process, what to expect and how you will get there is invaluable.
So, what happens if you lose trust and confidence in your ICBC lawyer?
Quite simply, you do have the right to change to a new ICBC lawyer. Timing is key to your ability to change ICBC lawyers, as well as being well informed of the process in changing ICBC lawyers.
If you are thinking about changing to a new ICBC lawyer, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Has your ICBC lawyer explained the ICBC claim process to you? Do you understand the types of personal injury claims you can make such as a claim for Part 7 benefits and a claim for compensation (tort claim)? Do you know what is involved with making these claims against ICBC?
- Has your ICBC lawyer made you aware of the compensation/funding that is available to you during your rehabilitation from ICBC (Part 7 benefits)? Do you know what funding is available and for what? Are you aware of how to access funding from ICBC and how much funding you are entitled to?
- Has your ICBC lawyer informed you of the types of claims you may make for compensation at the end of your claim with ICBC? Do you know what you can make a claim for such as pain and suffering and wage loss? Are you aware of how compensation is calculated?
- Has your ICBC lawyer explained the major changes made by ICBC to existing claims and new claims which came into effect on April 1, 2019? Do you know that these changes impact both your claim for Part 7 benefits and for compensation? Are you aware of how these changes impact you?
- Has your ICBC lawyer told you what to expect moving forward? Have you been given legal advice relating to your medical treatment and how to navigate through rehabilitation? Do you understand the expected timeline of your ICBC claim and the reasons for this timeline? Do you know about the proper timing of concluding your ICBC claim and why this timing is important?
- Do you understand how your ICBC lawyer’s legal fees work? Are you aware of what legal fees you will be responsible for when your claim concludes and how these legal fees are paid?
- Do you know what disbursements are? Disbursements are the legal expenses paid for by your ICBC lawyer on your behalf in prosecuting your claim including expenses relating to obtaining medical evidence, photocopies, faxes, filing fees, etc. Do you understand who is responsible for paying disbursements? Are you aware of whether your ICBC lawyer charges you interest for paying for these disbursements and, if so, how much the interest will be at the end of your claim? It is important to know that not all ICBC lawyers charge interest and that interest can be substantial in some cases and in the thousands of dollars.
- Have you conducted research on your own ICBC lawyer and the new ICBC lawyer you are looking to hire? Online reviews are often a good resource as they give you insight into the experience that others have had with your existing lawyer an potential new lawyer.
- Do you know whether your ICBC lawyer also works for ICBC? If the answer is yes, are you comfortable knowing that he/she represents ICBC in defending, discrediting, discounting and sometimes attacking ICBC claimants like you? Are you aware that any lawyer who works for ICBC is prevented from making certain types of claims against ICBC which may impact you significantly if you need to make one of these restricted claims in the future? For more information, please see a previous blog post on this issue.
- Do you know how you can change to a new ICBC lawyer and what the process is for doing this? Most ICBC lawyers offer a free initial consultation before entering into a contract. You should utilize this consultation to obtain answers to any questions you may have and to obtain information on how you can change lawyers including the cost of doing so and the timing. It is also important to gauge the level of comfort you have with a potential new ICBC lawyer.
If you decide to change to a new ICBC lawyer, it is important to know how this impacts the legal fees you are responsible for paying. What is essential for you to know is that you will not be charged 2 sets of legal fees (separate legal fees for each lawyer). If your former ICBC lawyer is entitled to his/her fees for work already conducted before the file is transferred (which depends on several factors as sometimes the former lawyer is not entitled to any legal fees), then 1 legal fee will be shared by both lawyers proportionate to the work they have each done on your file. This is important to understand because you, as a client and ICBC claimant, will not be punished financially for changing lawyers.
If you decide to change to a new ICBC lawyer, it is also important to know what happens to the disbursements paid for by your former lawyer before the file is transferred. The usual process is for the new lawyer to pay the disbursement account of the former lawyer before the file is transferred. The new lawyer then takes over the disbursement account for disbursements already paid for and any new disbursements that need to be paid for as your claim progresses.
If you have a problem with your ICBC lawyer, sometimes this can be resolved by simply expressing your concern to your lawyer and having a meeting to discuss the issues through open dialogue. If this is not possible and you feel that you cannot regain your trust and confidence in your ICBC lawyer, then we encourage you to contact us to speak to one of our experienced personal injury lawyers at Holness and Small Law Group for a free initial consultation.