Social Media – The Do’s and Don’t’s

 by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

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 If you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision that was not your fault, you may choose to make a claim through ICBC and eventually commence an action in Provincial or Supreme Court.

Likely one of the allegations that you will make in your claim will be that your injuries have altered your physical ability and affected your lifestyle and quality of life.  These claims will allow the other party in the lawsuit, perhaps represented by ICBC and their appointed lawyers, to look into all aspects of your life to defend or disprove your claims.

This includes any social media that you use regularly.  Increasingly evidence of on-line activity is being presented in evidence and considered by the Courts.

Many lawyers will advise you to withdraw completely from using social media and “get off the grid”.  This can be easier said than done.  You do not have to give up your on-line presence but there are some “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” that will protect you and help you to make a successful claim.

DO

  • Above all, when making your claim, always tell your caregivers, the ICBC adjusters, your lawyer, your friends, and all others the truth about the impact that the collision and your injuries have had upon your life.
  • Continue to go about your life as you did prior to the collision but understand that everything that ends up on-line may be reviewed by investigators acting for ICBC and the other party in your litigation.
  • Adjust all of the privacy settings on your individual programs to limit access to your data by unknown individuals that you do not approve in advance.  You can curate your programs to restrict access to them by unwanted individuals.  Information on how to do this is readily available in the programs themselves or through Google or YouTube.

DON’T

  • Lie, mislead, exaggerate or embellish the effect that your injuries have had upon your life or your past lifestyle.
  • Comment on line about your injuries, ICBC, the Court, your job or your claim. Remember, your life on line will become an open book in your claim and law suit.

The courts have approached the issue of the disclosure of social media posting with caution.  In Dosanhj v. Leblanc et al. Master Taylor found that

[30]         I am unable to envisage any rational justification for breaching the privacy rights of an individual in civil proceedings simply because it is alleged that the individual’s general health, enjoyment of life and employability are directly at issue.  Merely because a record may be made of the communication shouldn’t make it any different than a private telephone conversation.  If not, surely applications in civil proceedings for recordings of private communications can’t be far behind.

[31]         The plaintiff has provided an affidavit in response to the defendant’s application, in which she has deposed that she uses both her laptop and her iPhone to communicate with her lawyer over email and, in the case of her iPhone, using text messages.

[32]         As well, the plaintiff has deposed to being upset with the prospect of producing her Facebook account, her Twitter account, her computer and iPhone to the defendant as she feels they are private.  She has also deposed that she opened a Facebook account around the time of her surgery in 2006, mostly to see what other people were doing and to keep in touch with friends or family with whom she had lost touch.  The plaintiff has also deposed that she closed her Facebook account approximately a year and a half ago.

[33]         I am satisfied that the defendant’s application is entirely too broad and lacks the focus required by Rule 7-1(1)(a)(i).  In fact, I am more inclined to call this application a classic fishing expedition, but without the appropriate bait.  I observe as well that the order made by the court in Bishop, supra, was focussed on the times the plaintiff spent on his Facebook account on his computer, and did not give the defendant cart blanche to troll through the plaintiff’s correspondence as is sought in the application before me….

[37]         Surely if the material sought by the defendant from the social media sites on the plaintiff’s computer is an invasion of privacy, the application for metadata, in the context of the case at bar, would also be a serious invasion of the individual’s privacy.  In any event, in the context of this application I would choose to exercise my discretion not to grant the application for metadata associated with the plaintiff’s files related to her resumes and cover letters.

However, at trial in Tambosso v. Holmes, Justice Jenkins found as follows:

  • [170]     Throughout her evidence, the plaintiff testified that as a result of the PTSD and stress suffered as a result of the aftermath of the 2008 accident, her life completely changed from that of a vibrant, outgoing, industrious, ambitious, physically active, progressive and healthy young woman to that of a housebound, depressed, lethargic, forgetful, unmotivated woman who is unable to concentrate, cannot work, has friends only on the internet and whose “life sucks”.
  • [171]     One hundred and ninety-four pages of Facebook entries from her Facebook page posted between May 7, 2007and July, 2011 were entered in evidence following an order for production by Master Tokarek in August 2011. There are extensive status updates, photographs, and other posts to the plaintiff’s Facebook page that at face value appear to directly contradict her evidence regarding her alleged injuries, and her state of mind following the 2008 accident in particular.

CONCLUSION

Tell the truth, do not exaggerate and make sure your privacy settings on your social media accounts are properly adjusted.

If you would like a free initial consultation regarding this topic or any other aspect of your ICBC claim contact Peter Buxton at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or 604.372.4550.

Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc

Hit and Run – Am I Protected?

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by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

Wham!

You just had a serious car collision and it was not your fault.  You pull your car over and search for your insurance papers.  You look up and see the other driver leaving the scene.  What do you do?

First, if you can get the licence plate number of the other vehicle do so.  Write it down, together with the make, model and colour of the other vehicle.

Then, call 9-1-1 and report the accident and tell the operator that the other driver left the scene.  Do not chase after the other vehicle, you may be dazed and not capable of driving safely.

Get out of your car and look around for anyone who may have witnessed the collision.  Speak with them and write down their name and contact information and what they saw.  You can give this information to the police and ICBC to help in the investigation of the hit and run.

If you are able, quickly prepare a diagram of the scene and how the collision happened.  This will also help the police and ICBC.

Am I Able to Make a Claim for My Injuries and the Damage to My Car?

If you were involved in a collision on a roadway in B.C. and you cannot determine the identity of the driver that caused the accident you may be able to claim compensation directly from ICBC.  Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act provides for payment for damages for those who are victims of hit and run collisions provided that:

  1. the loss occurred on a highway in B.C.;
  2. the injury, death or property loss occurred during the use or operation of a motor vehicle, and
  3. the names of the owner and driver of the other vehicle are not ascertainable.

Section 24(5) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act provides that

(5) In an action against the corporation as nominal defendant, a judgment against the corporation must not be given unless the court is satisfied that

(a) all reasonable efforts have been made by the parties to ascertain the identity of the unknown owner and driver or unknown driver, as the case may be, and

(b) the identity of those persons or that person, as the case may be, is not ascertainable.

You will need to be aware of the time limitations for giving ICBC notice of the hit and run collision and the requirement that you take reasonable steps to determine the identity of the unknown motorist.  Reasonable steps can include putting a legible sign at the scene of the collision asking that witnesses contact you if they saw the accident and perhaps putting an advertisement in the local newspaper asking for witnesses to come forward.  Obviously you need to report the hit and run to the local police department so they can investigate.

Will ICBC Help Me to Identify the Other Driver and Tell Me About Section 24?

You cannot rely on ICBC to tell you of your obligations under Section 24, in fact in Fitger v. John Doe, Mr. Justice Meiklem commented that

[10]         Ignorance of the provisions of s. 24(5) is not an uncommon phenomenon. I do not know whether ICBC has a policy of deliberately not informing claimants such as Mr. Fitger of their s. 24(5) obligations, but there certainly does appear to be a practice of not advising claimants of their obligations, despite comments from the court about the unfairness that is apparent when lay people place reliance on claims being processed as if valid, and are then belatedly faced with the invocation of s. 24(5) if settlement is not reached: Springer v. Kee, 2012 BCSC 1210 at paras. 82-93 and Li v. John Doe 1, 2015 BCSC 1010 at paras. 105-116.

In Li v. John Doe, Mr. Justice Armstrong rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that ICBC had a duty to advise its insureds of the requirements of Section 24 and that failing to do so prohibits it from arguing at trial that the Plaintiff failed to take reasonable steps under Section 24.  He stated that

[120]     The plaintiff argues that while ICBC does not have a legal or statutory obligation, it has an equitable obligation to inform its insureds of their obligations and consequences following an accident caused by an unidentified motorist’s negligence or to obviate the possibility of the claimant assuming that ICBC has accepted the claim without the need to take further steps.

[121]     Victims of unidentified motorists who do not take steps required under s. 24(5) lose access to the $200,000 fund designed to compensate the innocent victim. The plaintiff contends that claimants face serious losses when claims are defeated because they failed to take “efforts sufficient to satisfy section 24(5) (that) could have been easily and inexpensively satisfied”.

[122]     Typically claimants fail to take steps to identify the negligent driver in the expectation that ICBC is administering and adjusting their claim and will not act to their prejudice. This includes an expectation that ICBC will bring s. 24(5) to their attention. In this case there was no evidence of what expectations the plaintiff held concerning ICBC’s role.

[123]     The plaintiff argues that ICBC is overwhelmingly in the best position to inform their insureds on the process, and when they fail to do so they knowingly allow the injured claimant to fall into the trap that is s. 24(5).

[124]     Nevertheless, the evidence in this case does not satisfy me that in its administrative processing of this hit-and-run claim ICBC consciously abandoned its rights when staff discussed the plaintiff’s claim with her. I conclude that ICBC’s decision or practice of withholding information concerning s. 24(5) of the Act while at the same time addressing Ms. Li’s claim could not operate as a waiver of their right to rely on the provisions of s. 24(5) to obtain judgment.

So, the good news is that you can make a claim directly from ICBC for compensation in a hit and run situation but, you must be very careful to follow the provisions of Section 24 requiring that you make reasonable effort to identify the unknown owner and driver.

If you are the victim of a hit and run accident and would like to have a free initial consultation regarding your claim and your right to compensation pursuant to Section 24 email me at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or call me at 604.372.4550.

 Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc

ICBC Ordered to Pay $350,000 in Punitive Damages for Malicious Prosecution

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by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

While it is appropriate for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia to combat fraud in dealing with property and injury claims arising from motor vehicle accidents, the public expects that it will do so fairly and in good faith.  Unfortunately this is not always the case.

In the case of Arsenovski v. Bodin, Madam Justice Griffin of the British Columbia Supreme Court has ordered the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia to pay $350,000 in punitive damages for the malicious prosecution of Ms. Arsenovski who was alleged to be making a fraudulent claim following a pedestrian accident.

A Special Investigation Unit officer employed by ICBC alleged that Ms Arsenovski was fraudulently advancing a claim for being struck by a vehicle while crossing in a crosswalk.  In a Report to Crown Counsel he asked that charges be brought against the woman for making a fraudulent statement to ICBC.

However, Madam Justice Griffin found that the statement was not false and noted that the Crown had stayed charges against Ms. Arsenovski on the first day of the criminal trial.

[382]  The conduct of the liable defendants was high on the scale of blameworthiness. The defendant ICBC is a public insurance company. As an insurance company it is expected to act in good faith. As a public company, its employees are also expected to meet high standards of professional conduct.

[383]  One of ICBC’s key purposes and reasons for existence is to serve the residents of British Columbia, by providing compensation when someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident. The corporation does not serve the residents of this province when it uses tactics of intimidation to discourage civil claims.

[384]  Not only were the public resources of ICBC wasted by the malicious prosecution of Mrs. Arsenovski, it was foreseeable that this would lead to wasting of the public resources of Crown counsel and judicial resources on the day the case came to trial. Mr. Gould also encouraged other public agencies to take action against her without reasonable grounds to do so, namely health and immigration authorities. The wasting of such public resources to so vindictively pursue Mrs. Arsenovski is deserving of the highest level of condemnation.

Madam Justice Griffin noted that ICBC has significant resources to investigate and process claims and ought not to resort to intimidation by a police officer that it employs in its Special Investigation Unit.

[386]  It has to be remembered that ICBC already has all the tools of civil procedure at its disposal, as well as trained adjusters and a sophisticated defence bar, to assist it in defending civil claims. The civil discovery process is already well-equipped to investigate accidents and injuries, and compels the production of all relevant medical evidence if there is a question about whether an injury has occurred. These tools work very well.

[387]  People bringing lawsuits seeking damages as a result of personal injuries suffered in car accidents face a very public prying into all aspects of their private lives, which already can be a significant deterrent.

[388]  ICBC did not need to use the power and authority of a peace officer to intimidate people who might be injured by the use of a car.

The Court considered the effect of allowing ICBC to use these tactics and Justice Griffin commented

[394]  There is no doubt that conduct of the kind that occurred in this case could dissuade people who have proper claims from vigorously pursuing them against ICBC, and could even dissuade lawyers from acting on a controversial claim for fear that ICBC will disparage them and cause trouble for them or their clients in the future. A strong message of denunciation must be sent to ICBC.

[395]  While the community would find it reasonable for ICBC to fight fraud, I am confident that the residents of British Columbia would find it outrageous for a public corporation to use its resources maliciously. The conduct that occurred here must be condemned and punished to reflect the community’s censure and to ensure that the message is brought home to the corporation and its employees not to engage in this kind of misconduct again. The residents of British Columbia are entitled to expect professional, objective treatment by the employees of ICBC, as well as an appropriate degree of cultural sensitivity towards people who are recent migrants from other countries.

If you have concerns about how ICBC is dealing with your claim and would like more information contact me today for a free consultation by emailing me at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or calling me at 604.372.4550.

Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc

Low Velocity Impact – Myth or Reality?

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by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

Often an insurance adjuster will comment that a person involved in a relatively minor motor vehicle accident could not have been injured because it was a “low velocity impact”. Further, you may be told that ICBC does not not pay for injuries and disability in this situation.

This can be confusing and disconcerting to someone who has been told by their doctor to remain off work for a period of time because they are suffering from soft tissue injuries. Further, you may have been referred by your doctor for secondary care such as physiotherapy or massage therapy and have had to pay out user fees.  While ICBC may cover basic fees for this service, they may decline to pay so-called “user fees”.

What about time lost from work?  Who is going to pay for lost wages or opportunity to earn income?

While judges are cautious about finding that a person was injured in the absence of proper medical evidence, they are equally cautious about accepting this ICBC corporate doctrine and defence of low velocity impact.

In a recent decision in Supreme Court Justice Ball commented that

“it has been clearly established in Canadian law that minimal motor vehicle damage is not “the yardstick by which to measure the extent of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff”. Mr. Justice Macaulay stated in Lubick v. Mei and another, 2008 BCSC 555 at para. 5:

The Courts have long debunked as myth the suggestion that low impact can be directly correlated with lack of compensable injury. In Gordon v. Palmer, [1993] B.C.J. No. 474 (S.C.), Thackray J., as he then was, made the following comments that are still apposite today:

I do not subscribe to the view that if there is no motor vehicle damage then there is no injury. This is a philosophy that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may follow, but it has no application in court. It is not a legal principle of which I am aware and I have never heard it endorsed as a medical principle.”

Duda v. Sekhon, 2015 BCSC 2393.

It is therefore important that if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and you believe that you have been injured, you should get your doctor to make a record of your injuries and you should follow your doctor’s advice regarding whether you are to take time from work and perhaps attend for physiotherapy or massage therapy.

Even in the face of engineering evidence raised by the defence, the Court will often prefer the expert medical evidence from the plaintiff’s doctors regarding resulting injuries.  In Pitcher v. Brown, 2015 BCSC 1415 Justice Betton stated that:

[106]     As to the forces involved and the probability of injuries resulting, the defence relies upon the opinion of two experts. Dr. Craig Good has a degree and Masters in Applied Science-Mechanical Engineering and a doctor in Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering. He opined that it is “highly unlikely that Ms. Pitcher sustained an acute Mild Traumatic Brain Injury at the time of the subject collision when her head contacted the head restraint.”

[107]     Gerald Sdoutz is a professional engineer who provided opinion evidence about the impact severity in the collision and compared it with activities such as sitting down in a low back office chair, coughing or sneezing or being jostled in a crowd.

[108]     While that expert evidence provides some insight I find its utility to be limited. It puts in perspective that the forces involved in the collision were modest. It does not preclude the conclusion that the plaintiff did receive injuries in this collision. In that regard I look to the expert medical evidence and the evidence of the participants in the collision. 

Do not just accept what your adjuster tells you about the force of the impact and their corporate policy regarding liability for your damages.  See your doctor and then see your lawyer for advice and representation if necessary.

 

If you have any questions about this post or relating to your motor vehicle accident or injuries contact me today for a free consultation by emailing me at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or calling 604.372.4550.

Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc

What Are the Two Types of Claims That I May Have?

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by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

If you qualify for insurance coverage with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and you have been injured in an accident that is not your fault you may have two types of claims:

  • A Tort Claim against the person who caused the accident, and
  • A Part VII Claim arising from the Regulations of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.

Your Tort Claim

In civil law jurisdictions like B.C. a tort is a civil wrong.  Negligence is a type of tort. If you can prove that you have suffered injury as a result of the negligence of the person who caused the car accident, you can advance a tort claim.  The claim is made against the other person personally and if they have valid insurance with ICBC they will be provided with a defence through a lawyer appointed and paid for by ICBC.

In addition to proving liability you will be required to prove your damages arising from your injuries.  There are several heads of damages discussed in an earlier blog post.

Your Part VII Claim

Your right to pursue a Part VII Claim is a statutory right set out in Part VII of the Regulations to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act of B.C.  Hence the name.  That part of the Regulations defines the so-called “no fault benefits” to which you may be entitled.  You are entitled to them regardless of fault for the accident.  Even if you caused the accident, and if you have not breached your insurance coverage (for instance by driving while impaired), you may be entitled to receive benefits for coverage of reasonable medical and rehabilitation expense, partial wage loss indemnity, homemaker benefits to pay for someone to come in to your home to help if you are disabled and death benefits payable to your surviving spouse or children.

Reporting Your Claim to Dial a Claim

As soon as possible after your accident you should call the ICBC Dial a Claim service or go online and report your claim. When you do so, do not discuss liability for the accident or things that others may have told you about how the accident happened.  If you were injured in the accident make sure to report your injuries and state that you are making a claim for them and any property damage to your vehicle.

Should I Give a Statement to ICBC About the Accident?

As part of the reporting process you may be asked to take your vehicle to an ICBC Claim Centre and speak with an adjuster about the accident.  Once there, you may be asked to sign certain forms and give a statement about how the accident happened and what your injuries are.  Be aware that most often this statement will be written down and you will be told that you need to sign it.  There is no obligation at law for you to provide a signed written statement to ICBC at the commencement of your claim.  However, if you are making a claim for Part VII no fault benefits you may have to provide a statement and abide by certain time limits.  But, you do not have to sign the statement.

Section 97 of the Regulations to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act says that

(1) Where an accident occurs for which benefits are provided under this Part, the insured shall

(a) promptly give the corporation notice of the accident,

(b) not later than 30 days from the date of the accident, mail to the corporation by registered mail, or deliver to the nearest claims centre of the corporation, a written report on the accident with particulars of the circumstances in which the accident occurred and the consequences of the accident, and

(c) within 90 days from the date of the accident furnish the corporation with a proof of claim in a form authorized by the corporation.

(2) The corporation is not liable to an insured who, to the prejudice of the corporation, fails to comply with this section.

Ideally you should seek out and retain a lawyer to assist you in providing a statement.  If your lawyer writes the statement and sends it to ICBC on your behalf, then ICBC and the opposing party cannot use the statement against your interest in any subsequent court action on your claim.

Take advantage of free initial consultation services offered by many personal injury lawyers to discuss these issues.

If you have any questions about this post or relating to your motor vehicle accident or injuries contact me today for a free consultation by emailing me at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or calling 604.372.4550.

Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc

The Contingency Fee Agreement

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by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

WHAT IS THE CONTINGENCY FEE AGREEMENT?

Most personal injury lawyers in British Columbia offer their clients a Contingency Fee Agreement whereby they agree to do the legal work for a percentage of the proceeds of settlement or judgment at trial.  This is favourable for the client because they do not have to pay the legal fee until the conclusion of the claim.

As well, most personal injury lawyers will agree to carry the expenses, known as disbursements, related to the claim until the conclusion of the claim, when they are generally paid by the other party in addition to the amount to be paid to the client.  The lawyer will likely expect to be paid interest on those disbursements in return for funding them over the time it takes to settle the claim or get judgment at trial.

HOW MUCH ARE THE PERCENTAGE FEES?

Most experienced personal injury lawyers charge between 25% and 33 1/3% for work they do on the file.  It can be sliding scale starting at 25%, going up to 30% upon the passage of time and a significant step being taken in the lawsuit such as Examination for Discovery (more later) and then going up again to 33 1/3% as your lawyer makes final preparation for and attands at trial.  Note that the Rules of the Law Society  provide that subject to the Supreme Court approving higher fees, the maximum compensation to which a lawyer is entitled in a claim for personal injury or wrongful death arising out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle is 33 1/3% of the total amount recovered.

WHAT ARE DISBURSEMENTS?

Disbursements are the expenses that must be paid from time to time to fund personal euro-870765__340injury litigation.  They include court fees, transcript fees, medical records and opinion fees, office expenses and other miscellaneous outside fees relating to the lawsuit.  The Contingency Fee Agreement often provides that these expenses are paid from time to time by the lawyer and that the client can reimbuse the lawyer as the fees are incurred or choose to have the lawyer carry the expenses until the conclusion of the claim when they are to be paid together with interest.  This is a matter that may be discussed between client and lawyer at the time of the first meeting.

WHAT ABOUT TERMINATING THE CONTINGENCY FEE AGREEMENT BEFORE THE CONCLUSION OF THE CLAIM?

The Contingency Agreement will set out the terms under which the lawyer or the client may choose to end the retainer agreement and how the lawyer’s fees and any disbursements owing might be paid out or protected.  Generally a client has the right to terminate the agreement for any reason while a lawyer may only do so at certain times and for certain reasons.  This is something that should be fully discussed and understood by both parties during the first meeting.

Most Contingency Fee Agreements only govern the conduct of the litigation up to and including the conclusion of the trial and any related hearings to determine final points of law or the costs that one party may owe to the other.  If there is an appeal by either party from the judgment at trial in the case, the lawyer and client will need to enter into another agreement.  However, while each party may have the right to appeal a judgment at trial, that course of action is rare.

CAN THE CONTINGENCY FEE AGREEMENT BE REVIEWED BY ANOTHER PARTY?

Most lawyers will allow you to consult with friends, family or another lawyer regarding the terms of the Contingency Fee Agreement before you sign it.  As well, after signing the Agreement, the client entering into a Contingency Fee Agreement has the right until 90 days after the Agreement was made, or the retainer between the lawyer and the client was terminated (at the conclusion of the claim), to apply to a District Registrar of the Supreme Court of British Columbia to have the Agreement reviewed.  If necessary the Registrar can order changes to the Agreement. This right exists even if the client has paid the lawyer under the agreement.

If you have any questions about this post or relating to your motor vehicle accident or injuries contact me today for a free consultation by emailing me at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or calling 604.372.4550.

Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc

How Do I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

There are many lawyers who will take on your personal injury claim, but do not be too quick to sign up.

Everyone has an Uncle Billy who had a lawyer do his Will or help him buy a house back in the day and apparently that same lawyer has also done an ICBC case.  Be careful!

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT LAWYER?

Finding the right lawyer might be one of the most important things you do in bringing yourlawyer-28838__340 claim.  Ideally you want a lawyer with experience in personal injury claims and dealing with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.  Make sure the lawyer you consider has trial experience and is able to properly deal with the complexities of your case.  There are some personal injury lawyers who will start your claim with ICBC and help you try to settle, but they are not prepared to take your claim to trial if need be.  ICBC keeps track of which lawyers go to trial and what their success rate is and you should too.  Hiring a trial lawyer does not mean that your case will go to court.  That is your decision to make in consultation with your lawyer. However, having a successful trial lawyer on your side will tell ICBC that you are serious about your claim and that you are prepare to go to court if necessary to get a fair settlement.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I MEET THE LAWYER?

Most personal injury lawyers will not charge you for your initial consultation.  You can speak with most lawyers for up to an hour to discuss your claim and make a decision about whether that lawyer is right for you.  During this initial interview you should be speaking with a lawyer, not a paralegal or legal assistant.  If a lawyer does not have the time to meet with you personally do you really want to trust them with your claim?

Make sure to ask the lawyer the following questions:

  • Do they  do litigation (civil trial work) and how long they have been practicing in the area of personal injury law;
  • Do they go to court; and
  • Will they be your lawyer throughout the whole claim or will your file be handed off to another lawyer once you sign up.

WHAT DO I BRING TO THE FIRST MEETING?

Make sure you bring all of your papers and documents relating to the accident and your injuries to the first meeting with your lawyer.  This includes:

  • Scraps of paper with information about the accident scene and witnesses;
  • Pictures of the accident scene, damage to the vehicle and the injuries;
  • Information, letters and and documents that you received from ICBC, including a copy of any written statements you may have given to ICBC (more later);
  • Information, letters, prescriptions and medical records from your doctors;
  • Information, letters and documents relating to your employment and time off work; and
  • Receipts for any out of pocket expenses that you may have had as a result of the accident and your injuries.

This information will help your lawyer understand your case and begin to advise you regarding the next steps to be taken in making your claim and dealing wiht ICBC.

The lawyer will discuss the fee and review a Contingency Fee Agreement that you may sign to retain the lawyer.

 

If you have any questions about this post or relating to your motor vehicle accident or injuries contact me today for a free consultation by emailing me at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or calling 604.372.4550 ext. 207.

Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc

Do I Have a Personal Injury Claim?

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by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

If you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault you may be entitled to make a claim for your injuries and loss.  In British Columbia you should report the claim to ICBC by calling Dial-a-Claim at 1-800-912-4222 or in the Lower Mainland at 604-520-8222.  When you speak to the operator make sure to tell them that you have been injured and want to make a claim.  You will be given a claim number and information about starting the claim.

At the scene of the accident take pictures of EVERYTHING with yout phone.  This includes the damage to the vehicles, the position of the vehicles on the roadway and the weather and road conditions.  These pictures will help you remember the facts of the accident and your lawyer will need them to help you settle your claim.

Starting a claim does not mean that you need to start a law suit.  Often your claim can be settled by you or your lawyer with ICBC directly.

If you hire a lawyer to act for you their fee may be a “Contingency Fee” calculated as a percentage of the settlement with ICBC.  Percentages vary but the usual fee in B.C. is 25% to 33%.

When you see your doctor and other care givers make sure to tell them all of the injuries that you believe were caused b y the accident.  But, understand that ICBC or other insurance companies will eventually see all records relating to the accident.  They can use these records to defend the claim so do not exaggerate your injuries or mislead your doctors and care givers.  Tell the truth.

If you do have a lawyer handling your claim and you are not satisfied with how your claim is being handled you can change lawyers, usually without any increase in cost to you. Many lawyers in B.C. will give you a second opinion about your claim with no charge to you for this service.

 

If you have any questions about this post or relating to your motor vehicle accident or injuries contact me today for a free consultation by emailing me at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or calling 604.372.4550 ext. 207.

Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc

Why Blog.

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by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

panorama

[pan-uhramuh

noun

– an unobstructed and wide view of an extensive area in all directions

– a comprehensive survey, as of a subject


 

This is the third post on a new legal blog.  It’s time for an introduction.

I am a lawyer practising personal injury law in British Columbia. Together with 5 other lawyers I practice at  Panorama Legal located in South Surrey. We practice in a variety of legal areas so our name is appropriate. While our firm is new, all of us have extensive legal experience and background. You can find our Facebook Page here and our website here.

Don’t worry, I am not going to tell you what great lawyers we are, the purpose of this blog is to give you legal information and content to help you understand personal injury law and perhaps help you deal with your personal claim arising from an accident.

Check back for regular updates.  In the first few weeks I am going to help you to decide if you have a claim, find and retain a lawyer to represent you and work with that lawyer to get a successful settlement of your claim. I will explain the primary steps in personal injury litigation including commencing an action in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, preparing for and attending at Examination for Discovery, mediation and if necessary trial.

After the basics, I will write about developments and strategies in the area of personal injury litigation and how you can use them to your benefit in making your claim.

I hope you take some time to follow the blog and let me know if you have any questions.

 

If you have any questions about this post or your motor vehicle accident or injuries contact me today for a free consultation by emailing me at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or calling 604.372.4550 ext. 207.

Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc

Have an accident? No thanks, I just had one!

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by Peter Buxton, trial lawyer

DO I HAVE A CLAIM?

  • Claims for injuries, loss and expense re unique. No two of them are the same.  If you are injured as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another person, you may have a claim for money damages for your injuries, loss and expense resulting from that negligence.  One of the most common types of claim is for damages arising from a motor vehicle collision.
  • Note that in British Columbia the time limit for bringing most claims for damages is two years from the date that you realized that you suffered a loss. This is usually the date of the motor vehicle collision.

WHAT ARE MY DAMAGES?

  • You may have a claim for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of the amenities of life. These are known as non-pecuniary damages and they depend on each individual, the circumstances of their injury and their lifestyle and how it has been affected.  Non-pecuniary damages are not fixed in value but depend upon established case law.  Your lawyer can research the law and give you an opinion of the value of your claim for pain, suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life.
  • You may also have a claim for general damages that might include past wage loss, future loss of opportunity or capacity to earn income, past expenses caused by the injuries sustained in the accident and the future cost of care to put you in the same position as if you had not suffered the effects of the negligent act of the other person. Medical opinions from your doctors and other care givers will help your lawyer calculate the duration and amount of these benefits.
  • Any benefits that you are entitled to through disability insurance from your work, Employment Insurance sickness benefits, or Social Assistance may be deducted from your claim for loss of income.
  • The value of your claim cannot be fully calculated until your lawyer is able to obtain the medical and economic information and evidence to prove the claim. Your doctors and other care givers are important to your claim and your lawyer will consult fully with them to develop your claim and bring the proper evidence to bear at settlement or trial.

HOW LONG WILL MY CLAIM TAKE TO SETTLE?

It is impossible to give an estimate of how long your claim will take to settle.  It depends on many factors such as:

  • Liability – can it be easily determine who was responsible for the injury? Will the other party (often represented by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) admit or contest liability?
  • The injury – How serious is the injury? Is it a minor injury or something that will affect you for your entire life?
  • Although it cannot be easily estimated how long your claim will take to resolve, it is always your decision whether you wish to settle your claim or not.
  • Your lawyer will work with you to obtain the best evidence to help maximize the value of your claim and achieve a fair settlement, perhaps using mediation or trial to get a result.
  • You should be careful not to rush to a settlement before you know the full extent of your injuries and your doctors can determine whether or not they will continue to affect you in the future.  Only then can you, with the help of your lawyer, put a value on your claim and begin the settlement process.

 

If you have any questions about this post or relating to your motor vehicle accident or injuries contact me today for a free consultation by emailing me at pbuxton@panlegal.ca or calling 604.372.4550 ext. 207.

Visit my website at https://panlegal.ca/peter-buxton-qc