When you’ve been serious injured, you want to make sure you have all the information about your legal rights before signing any documents given to you by ICBC. As part of gathering all the necessary information, getting legal advice early on is essential. Most personal injury lawyers should offer free initial consultations because it is very important you know what your claim is and what your rights are. A personal injury lawyer should explain:
- Who is at fault in the eyes of the courts.
- What types of compensation you can expect to receive.
- Where that compensation will come from and when.
- Possible complications related to your claim.
- What out-of-pocket losses you can recover and what receipts you should keep for reimbursement.
- What you can expect ICBC or an insurance company to do.
Where do I find a lawyer?
Typically, a referral from your personal network can work well, such as from family or friends. At the same time you must make sure you have the right kind of lawyer. A lawyer with decades of experience in Wills and Estates with little to no court experience would be unlikely to have the expertise required to see a successful personal injury case all of the way through. For your own piece of mind and to avoid financial disaster, it is important to be satisfied that you have the right lawyer for the job.
Aside from seeking referrals from your personal network, a quick google search of personal injury lawyers in your area can be very helpful. This will allow you to get to know the lawyer online through the Law Society of BC website, client reviews, their firms website, and the kinds of cases they have taken on with success. You certainly want to ensure you are hiring a lawyer who is in good standing with the BC Law Society, and one who has not been subject to discipline. Once you are satisfied you have the right lawyer, call and start the consultation process.
What are contingency fees and agreements?
Most personal injury lawyers will charge by a contingency fee agreement. This is simply a contract between you and the law firm which has you pay your legal fees as a percent of the amount recovered in damages. In most cases, the legal fees are payable only if your case is successful. In British Columbia, contingency fees are capped at 33% plus taxes. However it is common for most lawyers to offer a lower rate than the 33% capped rate. This makes it important for you to shop around.