An individual injured in a car accident is always faced with the issue of whether or not to hire a lawyer. People tend to stay away from lawyers because of the perception that they are expensive. However, you do need to take into consideration that ICBC adjusters are trained professionals and even though the claim could be a life changing event for you, it is just one of hundreds of files they will see this year. Lawyers are often a necessary evil in these situations.
If ICBC was prepared to offer 100% on the dollar to unrepresented claimants then there would be a lot less lawyers practicing in the area of personal injury litigation. However, since most ICBC adjusters are trying to keep their “severities” (the amount they pay per claim) down so as to minimize the amount they pay out on behalf of their employer, you will be very lucky if you get a 100% dollar offer from an adjuster without a lawyer.
In some situations, hiring a lawyer immediately after the accident is important. Some of the circumstances include:
- The death of a family member;
- A serious injury requiring hospitalization;
- Where liability for the accident is in question and you suffered significant injuries;
- Where ICBC is denying a claim because of the nature of the collision (low velocity impact) and you suffered a lasting injury;
- Where there is an anticipation of permanent injury to you resulting in a loss of future earning or the need for future care.
The reason being, the lawyer needs to carry out early investigation before evidence is lost and also need to obtain a series of expert reports ensuring the claim is fully developed.
Although a lawyer usually provides a legal bill based on a percentage of recovery, in more cases, the lawyer will definitely obtain an offer from ICBC in excess of what you can do on your own. Therefore, in most cases you are likely to net more with a lawyer after you pay him/her then you can get without a lawyer. Also, you have the peace of mind that you are getting a reasonable offer from ICBC and further, you can avoid having to deal directly with ICBC which can be quite an experience on its own.
The type of injury claim where you may not want to hire a lawyer is where you suffered soft tissue injuries, which last only for a few months. Hopefully, you can convince the adjuster to provide a reasonable settlement proposal to you and then you can settle the case for a reasonable dollar.
Most lawyers will provide a free consultation so it’s worth your effort to walk into a lawyer’s office and get a general idea of the value of your case and whether an offer of ICBC is reasonable in the circumstances.
Often, lawyers will agree to a fee agreement on the amount in excess of the offer that is on the table from ICBC meaning that regardless of what happens you will do better with a lawyer then without a lawyer.
The system has evolved where using a lawyer is a necessary requirement to getting a fair settlement for your claim. There are, of course, some exceptions where an adjuster will offer 100% on the dollar without legal representation but that definitely is not a common practice.