It is important to hire a lawyer to maximize your personal injury claim. Equally important, however, is that you hire the right lawyer. This involves a number of considerations:
- Does the lawyer have the necessary experience and expertise to handle your claim?
Many lawyers practice in a number of areas, and personal injury law may be just a small component of their work. You want a lawyer whose sole or primary practice is personal injury and in particular, ICBC-related claims;
- Does the lawyer also represent ICBC in other cases?
Many lawyers act for both injured victims and ICBC. There is nothing unethical about this, but it may be awkward for the lawyer to fight ICBC on behalf of injured clients in some cases, and take instructions from ICBC (as the client) in defending other cases. Moreover, lawyers who practice ICBC defense are at risk of developing a “defense perspective” in how they assess injury claims, which may not be to your benefit;
- Are the fees the lawyer charges reasonable and fair compared to the fees charged by other personal injury lawyers?
You should ensure that your lawyer is not charging more than the maximum fee of 33.3%. You should also confirm that your lawyer will not raise fees to take your case to trial. (For more on this topic, refer to Paying for a Lawyer)
- Are you confident that you can develop a solid, trusting relationship with the lawyer?
ICBC claims can take months or years to resolve, and are inherently personal in nature. A good relationship with your lawyer is crucial for a successful outcome, and will make the process much less stressful. You need a lawyer who communicates well, supports you and responds to your needs, and will fight hard to get you the best possible result.
Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer
When you meet with a lawyer about your ICBC claim, come prepared to ask plenty of questions to help you make the right choice. You will want to know:
- Is the initial consultation free of charge?
- What is the lawyer’s experience with ICBC cases, and in particular, cases similar to your own?
- Does the lawyer do ICBC defense work, and if so, how much?
- What are the lawyer’s fees?
- Who will handle your claim at the lawyer’s firm (the lawyer you meet, or someone else)?;
- Who will pay the disbursements (expenses) to handle your claim, you or the firm?
- Does the firm have the resources and willingness to spend what is necessary to fully develop your claim?
You may have other questions specific to your injury claim that you will also want the lawyer to address. The important point is to come prepared.
Finally, be wary of the lawyer who gives you an opinion about how much your claim is worth during the initial meeting. Unless it is a very minor case, a lawyer cannot properly appraise the value of your claim until you have more or less recovered from your injuries and there is medical evidence to support your injuries and other losses. This is rarely available in the early stages following an accident.