Do I need a lawyer? This is a common question we are asked when someone who has suffered an injury wants to know. This is a very common question when this injured person has an ICBC claim. ICBC is the insurance company we most often deal with if you have a personal injury claim resulting from a car accident in British Columbia.
A question that pops up periodically is whether people actually need to hire a lawyer or if they can just do everything themselves. ICBC would very much prefer if you simply just skipped the hiring a lawyer part and negotiated with them yourself.
Yes you do! That is what we think anyways. Of course we know this may sound totally self-serving because it is coming from a lawyer who works in a law office. This lawyer also happens to practice in the area of personal injury law and has clients with ICBC claims.
At the same time, as I write this, I believe in what I am saying because it is true. A person will need a lawyer so their interests are represented and represented well.
Of course most people know that becoming a lawyer is not a quick and easy process. We spend years in school, do an apprenticeship and finally, write the bar exam. After all the training we spend years practicing law, we get better and more experienced all the time. It is this experience and the access to the case law decisions that give us the leverage we need when dealing with insurance companies like ICBC. ICBC knows that we likely have access to the law about what judges have said in other cases where people have been injured.
See Val Hemminger of Hemminger Law Group discuss this topic in the video below:
ICBC also knows that you, the lay person, are unlikely to have access to the case law decisions. They also know you are likely inexperienced in preparing a case for court (or negotiation) in an ICBC matter.
In our view, as the client, you are almost always going to be in a better position with the professional assistance of a lawyer than you would have been if you did not hire one. This is even after you take into account the fact that you have paid your lawyer by way of a contingency fee agreement (most often the way we get paid with ICBC Claims and other personal injury lawsuits).
Although at Hemminger Law Group, we cannot guarantee this is always going to be the case (and we don’t make that guarantee), what we can say over and over again is that in our experience, our clients do better than they would have done had they not hired a lawyer.
Over the years, we have seen many examples:
The young woman who was offered $20,000 and she thought it was an awesome deal. She suffered a mild traumatic brain injury and other problems. Her Mom made her get legal advice. It took 18 more months but she ended up with $200,000+ in her jeans even after the lawyers were paid (this was a serious accident with serious injuries). So, did she need a lawyer? Yes, we think so.
The older man in his mid 70s with some soft tissue injuries was offered $3,500 by ICBC’s adjustors. He thought that was okay, but sought some legal advice. He ended up with $20,000 as a settlement and more than $14,000 net to him. He is now back playing his golf game and loving it. He also has some extra money to winter in Arizona next year.
The older woman in her mid 70s who was offered $3,500 and she thought she might take that offer. After seeking legal advice and hiring us, we got her $20,000 after only a couple months of negotiation. Now she is back in her retired lifestyle, spending it and enjoying it.
The mother of 3 who suffered some soft-tissue injuries and was frightened to drive after the collision. ICBC offered her $6,500. After obtaining legal advice and representation from Hemminger Law Group, her settlement was in excess of $65,000.
Although we can’t make a guarantee that you will do better with your claim, and every claim is different, we can say without a doubt that we highly recommend you seek legal advice with respect to your personal injury matter. Even if it isn’t with us, what we know is that a good lawyer will look after your interests.
Written by Alison Eustace, personal injury lawyer. Contact Alison at Hemminger Law Group.