In British Columbia, there are numerous lawyers and law firms who work for ICBC as defence counsel. They advocate for ICBC and they work to protect ICBC from personal injury claims by reducing claims. To reduce claims, often an injured claimants’ credibility and their medical team are attacked.
A staggering number of lawyers who work for ICBC also work for the injured. Ironically, they advertise themselves as protecting the injured and fighting for their rights while at the same time they do the exact opposite when working for ICBC.
This dual relationship in representing ICBC and injured claimants creates an obvious conflict of interest. The conflict of interest arises because the lawyer who represents ICBC also acts against ICBC when representing an injured claimant. Most significantly, this conflict of interest arises when ICBC wrongfully refuses to pay part 7 benefits.
ICBC has a legal duty of good faith to pay part 7 benefits to injured claimants if they are eligible to receive those benefits. Examples of part 7 benefits include funding for treatment and disability benefits if the injured claimant is unable to work due to his/her injuries. If ICBC refuses to pay part 7 benefits to an injured claimant who rightfully is entitled to those benefits, which certainly is not uncommon, the impact can be catastrophic for the injured claimant. Without funding for treatment, numerous injured claimants will not be able to afford to continue which can increase their pain and disability. Without disability benefits (also known as ICBC total temporary disability benefits or TTD benefits), some injured claimants will be financially ruined and they will go into significant debt.
If ICBC has wrongfully denied part 7 benefits to an injured claimant, the recourse is to sue ICBC in bad faith. The goal of a bad faith claim is to force ICBC to pay those benefits which were denied. Additional claims are made for punitive damages and aggravated damages as punishment for wrongfully denying part 7 benefits.
When a law firm works “both sides of the fence” by representing ICBC and injured claimants, a significant conflict of interest arises due to the “strategic alliance” agreement that ICBC requires law firms to sign when they are hired to work for ICBC and defend against injury claims. This agreement prevents all lawyers of the law firm from suing ICBC in bad faith. What this means is that if you have hired a lawyer who works for a firm that also represents ICBC, then you will not be able to sue ICBC in bad faith if you have wrongfully been denied your part 7 benefits. You will not have any recourse against ICBC and you will be prevented from pursuing any justice against ICBC.
The Law Society of British Columbia requires lawyers who represent both ICBC and injured claimants to advise all potential injured clients about this conflict of interest.
If you hired a lawyer who also works for ICBC and they did not advise you of this potential conflict of interest as required by the Law Society, you have been deprived of making an informed decision in hiring your lawyer. This is because you were unaware that this lawyer is restricted from helping you if ICBC denied you part 7 benefits.
For more information on this conflict of interest, see this interesting article.
To find out which firms represent ICBC and to see if your lawyer also acts for ICBC, check out the database of law firms paid by ICBC since 2009.
Holness and Small Law Group only represents injured claimants, never ICBC or any other insurance company. We take this conflict of interest seriously because it can have a dire impact on our injured clients. Our loyalty is only to you and to no one else and especially not to ICBC.
If you have questions about your ICBC claim or your lawyer who also works for ICBC, contact us for a free legal consultation.