PERSONAL INJURY

When you hire our firm to represent you in an injury claim almost 100% of the time we will act for you on a contingency fee basis. What that means is that we do not get paid unless and until you get paid by the insurance company or offending party. Our legal fees are paid as a percentage of the award/settlement. If you receive an award then the lawyer will get paid from the settlement award not from you. Therefore there is little risk in terms of legal fees. Though the actual percentage related to our fees vary from case to case I think that you will find our standard contingency fee agreement both reasonable and easy to understand.

PERSONAL INJURY / ICBC CASES:

(1) What do I do if I have been injured in an accident?

(2) What types of accidents can lead to monetary compensation for me?

(3) What type of injuries has our firm dealt with?

(4) What if I was injured before the accident and the accident just made my injuries worse -- can I still collect monetary damages?

(5) If I collect damages who pays for those damages?

(6) How much is my injury worth? What types of damages are there?

(7) How do I survive economically if I cannot work after the accident and how do I pay for my medical bills?

(8) Does ICBC have the right to send me to a medical doctor and obtain my private medical information?

(9) Are the medical appointment that important: Why can't I just settle my case?

(10) How do I pay the lawyer to help me with my injury claim?


(1) What do I do if I have been injured in an accident?

At the accident scene you should attempt to do as follows::
- ensure your safety and seek medical help where necessary;
- if you are able then obtain the FULL details of all other parties involved in the accident, including their names, addresses, telephone or email contact numbers, birthdates, driver's license numbers, license plate numbers, insurance details (name and policy number of other driver's insurer, especially if the other driver is not insured with ICBC);
- if you are able then obtain the FULL names, addresses and telephone or email contact numbers of ANY witnesses to the accident; ask the witness what he/she saw and obtain a statement if possible from them about the details of the accident from their point of view;
- DO NOT admit any responsibility for the accident (a qualified lawyer may be able to help you determine whether in fact you are completely or partially at fault later and if appropriate then an admission of liability can be made);
- DO NOT immediately move your car from its resting position as the resting location of the vehicle may help to later determine liability (ie. who's at fault for the accident); if you have a camera with you (many cellular phones have cameras these days) then you should document the damage (of all vehicles involved) by photograph; it is also a good idea to take photographs of the other parties as that might later help identify them to ICBC, the police and/or our Process Server (if legal action later becomes necessary).
- obtain the names and badge numbers of any police officers or emergency personnel that are investigating/attending the accident;
- if you are a driver involved in a motor vehicle accident in British Columbia then you have a duty to report this accident to your insurer (usually ICBC) and if the damages in the accident are over $1000.00 then under the provincial legislation governing motor vehicles (ie. the Motor Vehicle Act [www. .com] you have an obligation report it to the authorities (ie. the police);
- before you provide ANY information to the police or ICBC you have the right to speak with a legal representative of your choice; DO NOT get bullied into providing a statement to either the police or ICBC without first exercising your right to consult with a legal representative; we are to speak with you after an accident on a 24 hours a day basis;
- NEVER depart the scene of the accident without at least attempting to identify yourself to the other parties involved (which may include the owners of vehicles or personal property which may have been damaged in the accident) or the authorities; you should know that if you depart the accident scene without attempting to locate the owners/drivers or injured parties that ICBC may refuse to cover the damages to the vehicles involved (or refuse to cover you for other third party damage); of course it is not not always possible to locate the other parties to your accident and, especially if you are injured and taken from the accident scene by ambulance you may not even get a chance to locate the other parties,
- AS SOON AS YOU CAN you should contact a qualified lawyer to help you with the process of instituting a claim for damages with the relevant insurance companies that may be involved; this will involved the lawyer helping you report the claim and helping you fill our the appropriate documentation for medical/rehabilitation and/or wage loss benefits;
- YOU SHOULD BE AWARE that our telephones are answered 24 hours a day 7 days a week including holidays.

(2) What types of accidents can lead to monetary compensation for me?

If you have been involved in an accident that is the fault of someone else and you have been injured as a result then you may a case against the person at fault for their "negligence". If you or a loved one has suffered personal harm or injury, death, wage loss, care costs, future loss of earnings or even medical expenses as a result of the accident then you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Some of the types of accidents that can lead to monetary damages are as follows:

(b) Car accidents;
(c) Pedestrian accidents;
(d) Public transportation (Bus or Taxi) accidents;
(e) Motorcycle accidents;
(f) Bicycle accidents;
(g) Boating accidents;
(h) Skiing accidents or other sporting accidents;
(i) Slip & fall accidents; and
(j) Dog/Animal bites.

It is not the type of the accident that is important in order to seek compensation but rather a determination of fault or the negligence or another party that causes your injury that is important in order to claim financial compensation for "personal injury". So if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident (mva) and someone else is at fault for the accident then you may have a case against the other driver for personal injury. Or for instance you slip & fall in a premises (say a grocer store where there was a puddle of milk on the floor) and there was inadequate warnings or measures put in place by that owner to prevent the injury then you may have a case for damages against the owner of that store. Or if your neighbour's pit bull terrier knocks you down and chews you up (and that dog is known to be dangerous) then you may have a case for damages against the owner of that dog (ie. your neighbour).

There is an endless amount of accidents that could have been prevented from happening in the first place, or situations where the damages caused could have been lessened if a driver, owner/occupier, pet owner or whoever, took effective and immediate precautions to avoid the accident. The law recognizes that those who suffer harm owing to the fault or negligence of another is entitled to fair compensation. The amount of that compensation will depend upon several factors.

Our law firm handles ALL types of circumstances that lead to injuries including: motor vehicle accidents, bus accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycling accidents, boating accidents, skiing accidents, slip & falls, dog bites, etc.

(3) What type of injuries has our firm dealt with?

In my years of practice I have dealt with many different types of injuries caused by accidents including but not limited to the following:

a. Brain injuries: from headaches to traumatic brain injury;
b. Spinal cord injuries;
c. Loss of movement;
d. Loss of limbs,
e. Internal organ damage;
f. Loss of eyesight, hearing or other sensation;
g. Dental loss or TMJ problems;
h. Scarring;
i. Fibromylagia;
j. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome injuries;
k. Psychological injuries, including PTSD, Depression and/or Anxiety;
l. Whiplash;
m. Neck and back injuries;
n. Shoulder injuries: including Thoracic Outlet syndrome, frozen shoulder, torn rotator cuffs;
o. Broken bones;
p. Knee injuries, including torn ACL, patellar pain, dislocations;
q. Hip and joint injuries;
r. Chronic Pain syndrome; and/or
s. Other oft tissue injuries.

(4) What if I was injured before the accident and the accident just made my injuries worse -- can I still collect monetary damages?

Many times as we get older we injury ourselves doing simple things like gardening or sports or simply walking on uneven surfaces. Sometimes the effects of those injuries stick with us but are later aggravated or made worse by another accident that is not our fault. In those types of cases you can still seek compensation for the additive affect of the subsequent accident that caused you injuries and that were not your fault. Therefore just because you were previously injured does not mean that you do not have case for personal injury against the responsible party. Sometime people are injured in one car accident and weeks or months later they are injured in another accident. In those cases you may collect monetary damage against the parties responsible (or ultimately their insurers) in the degree to which they have caused you harm. The degree of causation may be something that medical professionals later have to determine with their expertise.

(5) If I collect damages who pays for those damages?

In most cases, like for instance in a simple car accident, driver's carry insurance for "third party liability". A store may also carry similar insurance to insure against accidental damages caused in a slip & fall. A home owner may carry insurance that covers damages caused by their pets or for accident loss caused by a slip & fall. Therefore in the large majority of the cases it is the Insurance Companies that end up paying for the damages caused to you in the accident whether it is a car accident, bike accident, bus accident, skiing accident, slip & fall, etc. The majority of times, if the party that causes harm has sufficient insurance coverage the Insurance Companies will indemnify and hold harmless that party and the offending party will never have to pay for any damages caused beyond the insurance deductible or minor crash responsibility charges. Sometimes if the offending (at fault) party does not have sufficient insurance coverage he/she will be "on the hook" to pay for monetary damages that are in excess of his/her coverage. Other times the insurance company may hold a offending driver or owner to be in breach of their insurance coverage (such as in the case where the offending driver is "drunk" or leaves the scene of the accident) and in those cases an offending party may, eventually, be held financially accountable for the accident by the insurance company. For more information about a possible "breach of insurance" due to intoxication or hit and run you should contact our office. You might also refer to the relevant portions of the legislation governing this area of law at [www. .com] - see section 55(8), 73, 24, 25

(6) How much is my injury worth? What types of damages are there?

In most personal injury cases the person injured can expect to collect monetary damages that are attributable to the accident as compensation. The form of the compensation will obviously be different depending upon the nature of the injuries. The following is a list of some of the things that one might claim:

a. damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (the extent of the award will depend upon a variety of factors including the type of injury suffered; the age of the injured party; how the injury has affected the injured party's life and how badly the injury is expected to affect the injured party in the future;

b. damages for wage loss (if you are temporarily disabled and miss work after an accident that you can expect to collect the "dollar for dollar" equivalent of your provable loss);

c. future wage loss or loss of ability to earn income (if you are somehow permanently disabled, even if it is a partial permanent disability [ie. the loss of your pinky finger which may effect your manual dexterity or a back injury which may effect your ability to perform heavy work] then you can expect to collect a sum a money that is equivalent to that provable future loss or income. The proof of that future loss is sometimes a difficult task and usually involves an abundance of medical assessment);

d. past care cost (if you have spend money for your medical care then you can expect to collect a sum of money equivalent to those expenses but ensure that you keep the receipts to prove this loss);

e. future care costs (if you will suffer repeated medical expenses in the future owing to your accident-related injuries then you can collect a sum of money equivalent to that future loss);

f. out of pocket expenses (if you suffer out of pocket expenses like for travel to/from medical appointments, cab fare, parking, etc, then this is also recoverable but again - KEEP track of these expenses in a log or receipt book);

g. legal costs (sum of the legal costs associated with advancing your personal injury case are recoverable as the court system recognizes that often legal experts, lawyers and their agents are a necessary part of the process).

(7) How do I survive economically if I cannot work after the accident and how do I pay for my medical bills?

Many times people who are injured in a motor vehicle accident have immediate needs like paying for their rent, mortgage, car payments and immediate medical bills. After an accident which causes injury an accident victim may be put in the position to have to pay up front for medical treatment or pay their bills without having a continuing paycheck.

If you have medical coverage and/or disability insurance coverage through your place of employment then by and away that disability insurer will take the lead and either pay for (or reimburse you for paying for) medical bills (ie. medicine, physiotherapy, hospital bills) and wage loss (ie. short term and/or long term disability benefits). In order to start the ball rolling you will need to apply with that disability insurer (ie. Sun Life, Clarica, Manulife) for coverages. Largely this can be taken care of by the person responsible at your place of employment (ie. Human Resources Manager) however you will have to fill out an application for whatever benefits are available through the employer's plan. WARNING: if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident you might also possibly have to sign a "Subrogation Agreement" with your employer's disability insurer in order to obtain any benefits from them. A "Subrogation Agreement" is an agreement for you (or your legal representative) to re-pay the disability insurer (ie. Sun Life) for any payments that you may receive in the future for wage loss, future wage loss or medical expenses. The subrogation agreement is largely meant to guard against an injured party "double-collecting" for his accident related injuries. Before signing any subrogation agreement you should have that agreement looked over by a legal representative.

If you DO NOT have medical coverage and/or disability insurance coverage through your place of employment then there is a variety of different sources through whom you might receive immediate medical benefits and/or rehabilitation benefits and/or temporary wage loss benefits. If you are injured and are not covered by an employer's medical/disability insurance the very first thing that you should do is to apply for employment assistance with Human Resources Development Canada ("HRDC"). Even if you do not believe that you will covered by HRDC (ie. you have not worked the minimum required weeks to obtain coverage) you should still apply for these benefits. There are a variety of different coverages available (ie. "medical leave") and you should inquire of the HRDC representative of what coverages may apply for you. If you do not qualify for any HRDC help then you should ask for a written explanation confirmation from HRDC their refusal to offer you benefits.

Even if you are covered by HRDC benefits, or after you have exhausted them, you may still seek immediate financial help for medical or rehabilitation expenses or for temporary wage loss disability benefits from ICBC while you are incurring the expenses or suffering from a disability caused by a motor vehicle accident.
Under Part 7 of the Regulations (1984) to the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act, ICBC is required to pay for certain expenditures that relate to your immediate medical needs (ie. for certain medical and rehabilitation expenses) and/or for temporary wage loss benefits PROVIDED THAT you have jumped through all of the appropriate hoops. We can explain the process including what hoops you may need to be jumped through in order to obtain these immediate benefits if you call us. You may also wish to investigate ICBC legal obligations further by visiting the followings links:

www. .com (Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act.
www. .com (ICBC information page)

If you have no place else to turn and, for some reason, do not qualify for any public or private assistance there may other forms of financial help available to you including:
(a) advances on an expected settlement that can be accessed through ICBC; (b) personal loans that can be made to you by outside financial institutions that specialize in advancing injured parties monies with deferred payment until the settlement is made or court action resolved (see for instance the following link: www. .com or www. .com); (c) personal emergency loans that our firm may advance to you or directly to your medical professionals; (d) deferral plans that can be arranged by us with your medical professionals (ie. chiropractors or physiotherapist or even for diagnostic tests like MRIs) for these treatment/diagnostic costs so that you need not pay then until your case settles; (e) community based resources which can be accessed by you to pay for extraordinary medical expenses.

YOU SHOULD BE AWARE that you must ensure that you al least apply and attempt to secure benefits from all sources that may be available to you or the Court may later make deductions against you for the amounts that you could (and should) have tried to access when they were available.

YOU SHOULD ALSO BE AWARE that the current weekly maximum that ICBC has to pay a person injured in a motor vehicle accident for weekly wage loss benefits under the statutory regime is only $300 per week which is really a pittance and will hardly cover your monthly bills.

YOU SHOULD ALSO BE AWARE that ICBC, in my opinion, makes it incredibly difficult for people to access the immediate benefits that they require. For instance, in dealing with rehabilitation expenses though ICBC may approve physiotherapy or other treatment for funding so that the physiotherapist gets paid by ICBC for your visits you may still be charged a surcharge by physiotherapist every time you visit them. (ICBC is quick to point out that these expenses can be reimbursed as "special expenses" at the end of your claim but to my way of thinking it merely puts more impediments in the way of obtaining treatment for persons injured in motor vehicle accidents). ICBC is in my opinion also very slow to approve funding for any treatment and often require incessant medical referrals or medical examinations prior to your obtaining approval.

At our firm we attempt to help clients secure all possible funding for our client's immediate needs by doing some or all of the following:

(a) working with the various insurance agencies to obtain reimbursement for our clients for medical expenses (like medication expense),
(b) working with doctors to obtain the necessary medical referrals for our clients' proper treatment and then ensuring that ICBC fund those therapies where medically necessary and where circumstances dictate;
(c) working with employers to obtain the information necessary to provide to ICBC so that if wage loss benefits become immediately due then they will be paid on time;
(d) obtaining deferrals on payment from treating medical professionals so that they will be paid at the end of your claim; and
(e) providing emergency loans to clients when necessary and where circumstance permit.

We do not just sit in the wings and wait for settlement. It is our commitment to help clients as best we can to obtain every form of funding available for their immediate needs.

(8) Does ICBC have the right to send me to a medical doctor and obtain my private medical information?

In certain circumstances ICBC may attempt to secure your past medical records or have you seen by one of their chosen physicians.

Usually at your first meeting with ICBC, if you look to be making a future claim for compensation with them, the ICBC representative will attempt to have you signed an authorization for ICBC to obtain your private medical records. DO NOT SIGN THAT AUTHORIZATION. Instead seek immediate legal advice from us about the repercussions of signing versus not signing that authorization as the harms may far outweigh the benefits depending upon the case.

Eventually if you proceed with a legal action for personal injury damages or you are requesting that accident benefits (ie. medical/rehabilitation benefits or wage loss benefits are or will be payable by ICBC) then the law in BC currently gives ICBC the right to send you to for a private medical examination. They call these "Indepdendent" Medical Examinations or IMEs. In my opinion they are far from INDEPENDENT. ICBC has had-picked medical professionals who make a large annual income from performing these medical examinations and preparing these reports for ICBC. Obviously if ICBC is helping that medical professional pay for his Whistler Condo or his kid's braces and fancy private schools then that doctor will want to continue to live off that "gravy train". The IME reports cost ICBC several thousand dollars each and you do not have to be a genius to figure out that the IME reports are usually take a critical or "justifiable" position and regularly downplay the injuries suffered by a client. Your obligation to attend for these independent medical examinations with ICBC's chosen-few doctors will depend upon the circumstances facing you and your obligation to attend at the IME should be discuss with your legal representatives.

IF you are a client of this firm you can be certain that IF ICBC sends you for an IME with one of their doctors (and even if they don't) in the vast majority of cases we will set up appointments for such medical examination(s) that may become necessary including the following: (a) private MRIs which can be done within a week not take months or years; (b) medical referrals and attendances with BC's top treating orthopaedic medical practitioners for Plaintiff oriented IMEs paid for by the law firm; (c) functional capacity examinations with noted occupational therapists who are qualified to give evidence in court if necessary; (d) neuron-psychological exams with qualified professionals, etc. We will have you seen by the best of the best so that we can obtain the best possible prognoses for you. For it is only after receiving the advice of these medical doctors that we can properly assess the fall-out and appropriate settlement for you. We DO NOT just sit by and let ICBC send you to their medical doctors. We are proactive in ensuring that our experts will match or better those of ICBC if your matter ends up in court.

(9) Are the medical appointment that important: Why can't I just settle my case?

When you have been injured ICBC will need to not only assess the nature of your injuries (and how they might affect you in the future) they will also want to attempt to downplay your injuries in order to goad you into a small settlement. In order to do so ICBC will want to secure all of your medical history, educational history, vocational (workplace) history, claims history with Workers Compensation Board or other disability insurers, etc. They have plenty of resources to investigate your claim and they use their resources to build up a case against you. In my view the insurance company's take a "smoke and mirrors" approach to defending personal injury cases. If they find out information about you they will not be afraid to use it against you to defeat your claim. They will attempt to blame the effects of your injury on anything by the accident. They always look for "congenital" difficulties (ie. problems that they say you were born with or developed over time) or other accidents (ie. post-mva sporting injuries, etc.) upon which to blame your mva-related injuries. As mentioned in the preceding paragraph they will hire their doctors who will be paid to support and testify in court to legal positions contrary to yours.

To a large extend the insurance company does not really care WHAT YOU SAY happened in an accident or WHAT YOU SAY the medical fall out of the accident is. The insurance company will only stand up and take notice of your claim for injury if it is supported by medical diagnostics and medical opinions. The insurance companies thus do care what the doctors say about you. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that you have your injuries supported and documented by medical professionals. The clinical records of all of your treating medical professionals is really the roadmap to your claim. Doctors are trained to take good notes regarding your injuries so that they can later report then in medical-legal format. Every visit you make to your treating medical professional (whether it is in a hospital, at the family doctor, a chiropractor, a physiotherapist or even a massage therapist) is always recorded. The notes relating to your visits will likely later be disclosed by your lawyer to the insurance company's lawyers. Therefore everything that you say to your treating medical professionals might eventually become an important piece of the puzzle.

YOU SHOULD BE AWARE that you should be as detailed as possible with your medical doctors so that all the injuries relating to your accident are reported. YOU SHOULD ALSO MAKE SURE that your medical professionals are both making detailed notes relating to your injuries and are making the appropriate referrals to recognized experts.

Only after obtaining a proper medical prognosis can your lawyer accurately assess your claim. If you refuse treatment deemed necessary then the insurance companies will tell the court that you did not properly "mitigate" your damages and will later seek to have any award reduced as a result. Therefore you do need to seek all appropriate medical assistance in order to properly treat your mva-related injuries and obtain a proper prognosis.

At our firm we will guide you through this process if you hire us to deal with your claim.

(10) How do I pay the lawyer to help me with my injury claim?

When you hire our firm to represent you in an injury claim almost 100% of the time we will act for you on a contingency fee basis. What that means is that we do not get paid unless and until you get paid by the insurance company or offending party. Our legal fees are paid as a percentage of the award/settlement. If you receive an award then the lawyer will get paid from the settlement award not from you. Therefore there is little risk in terms of legal fees. Though the actual percentage related to our fees vary from case to case I think that you will find our standard contingency fee agreement both reasonable and easy to understand.


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