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FAQ

What should I do when I’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident?

Get names, addresses and phone numbers of all drivers, witnesses and police officers involved. Obtain a copy of the police motor vehicle accident report.

Seek medical advice. Go to the hospital for a check up and see your family doctor as soon as possible after the accident. Report all symptoms to him or her. Continue with regular visits until you have recovered completely. Follow your doctor’s advice and that of any other professionals you may be referred to.

In British Columbia, report the accident to I.C.B.C. In Alberta, report the accident to your insurance company. If possible, seek legal advice before reporting your claim.

Who can claim compensation for personal injuries?

Every person in British Columbia and Alberta who has been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident potentially has a personal injury claim. This applies to pedestrians and cyclists who are injured by automobiles, as well as drivers and passengers who have been injured.

Do I have to prove someone else at fault?

Yes. The law in British Columbia and Alberta requires that the injured person prove fault on the part of the other motorist. For example, if a pedestrian is run down in a crosswalk then in all likelihood the party at fault is the driver of the automobile. Similarly, if a cyclist has been forced off the road by a car, then fault would lie with the driver of that car. Most automobile accidents involve two car collisions. Usually, the driver of one of those cars is at fault. The other driver and the occupants of both cars then have a claim against the ‘at fault’ driver.

What the injured person has to prove, then, is negligence on the part of the automobile driver. Even if the injured person is himself partly at fault, he can still successfully recover compensation from the other driver. In law, this concept is known as contributory negligence.

Are there time limits in which I must bring a claim for compensation?

Yes. And you should get prompt legal advice concerning time limits.

The insurance company appoints an adjuster to deal with me – why do I need a lawyer?

If you have been injured as a result of some other motorist’s fault, you have a claim against that person’s insurance. It is the job of that insurance adjuster to put a dollar value on the claim from the insurance company’s point of view. Know that the adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you, no matter what he says. The job of the MacIsaac Group lawyer is to:

  • collect all the evidence concerning the automobile accident;
  • obtain the necessary medical information setting out the type of injuries you have suffered from, the impact upon your life from these injuries, and
  • to obtain all the evidence concerning your wage loss, both past and future.

Additionally, in many cases where there are serious injuries, your lawyer’s job includes obtaining for you compensation for the future medical care needs which you might require.
Finally, if your lawyer cannot settle your claim on your behalf with I.C.B.C./the insurance company or its lawyers, then it is the job of your lawyer to take your case to court so you can obtain in court the judgment you are entitled to according to law.

How long does an insurance claim for personal injuries take?

The time required to settle your claim with I.C.B.C./the insurance company or its lawyers will depend on the type of injuries you have suffered, the length of time it takes for you to recover from those injuries – if in fact you do obtain full recovery – and the impact of those injuries upon your life, both work and play. No claim should be settled until the medical personnel involved have provided your lawyer with a clear assessment of what the future holds with your injuries. In cases where the injuries are not serious, and you have made a quick recovery, your claim should be settled within six months or so of the accident date. However, if your injuries are more serious and if you are at risk of having permanent disability from those injuries, a good rule of thumb is 24 months or so from the date of the accident to the date of settlement (or trial if that is required). This is one question which you should discuss with your lawyer at the first office consultation.

What legal action is involved in a claim for personal injuries?

There certainly are cases involving claims for personal injuries where your lawyer is able to settle your claim directly with I.C.B.C./the insurance company’s adjuster, without the need to commence a lawsuit. In many other cases, however, your lawyer will find it necessary to file papers and commence a lawsuit. This does not mean that your case will in fact end up being tried in a courtroom. Statistics tell us that of all of the personal injury insurance claims filed in British Columbia and Alberta, only a tiny fraction actually get to trial.

The prosecution of the lawsuit is your lawyer’s responsibility. He has the required skill to ensure that your case is prepared in the proper legal manner for the possibility of a court case. It is his job to file the necessary court papers, and obtain the evidence supporting your claim. This is what you are paying him for. If your case does proceed to trial, it is his job to subpoena the witnesses and present your case in court.

What can I claim for?

An injured person claims compensation for the injuries she suffered and the losses which she has incurred as a result of those injuries. Generally, most personal injury claims involve compensation (money) for:

  1. the pain, suffering and loss of pleasure of life which were caused by the physical injuries;
  2. your gross wage loss;
  3. full reimbursement to you of all the monies you have had to pay out as a result of the injuries;
  4. all your future losses – which may be your future wage losses or the cost of future care you are going to need because of your injuries.

Further, you are entitled to interest on some of the money which you will obtain in a settlement or judgment. Your MacIsaac Group lawyer has the knowledge necessary to obtain for you the full compensation you are entitled to under these ‘heads of damages’.

How do I pay my lawyer, and how much do I pay him?

Lawyers cost money. In personal injury insurance claims, you have the right to pay your lawyer on a ‘contingency fee’ basis. This is simply a percentage basis. If you recover nothing in your claim, you should pay your lawyer nothing. Similarly, if you are successful, and your lawyer recovers money for you from I.C.B.C./the insurance company, then the amount you pay him will be a percentage of that amount of money he recovers on your behalf. Typically, contingency fees in British Columbia and Alberta range anywhere from 25 to 33 1/3 percent. Discuss the question of legal fees with your lawyer on the first visit to his office.

If you like, you can pay your lawyer in the conventional way, that is on his hourly rate. The choice is yours.

If you agree to pay your lawyer on the ‘contingency fee’ basis, then all the expenses which your lawyer will incur in the prosecution of your claim – Court Registry fees, experts’ reports, cost of medical reports and the like – are financed by your MacIsaac Group law firm. These expenses, known as “disbursements”, in some cases add up to thousands of dollars.

If you have hired your lawyer on a ‘contingency fee’ basis, his fees are paid at the time he collects your money from the insurance company, and not before. If you hire your lawyer on an hourly basis, then normally the lawyer would send to you interim accounts for immediate payment. He may also request a retainer from you.

Why should I hire a MacIsaac Group law firm to act on my behalf?

The MacIsaac Group of Law Firms was founded in 1990, and expanded rapidly, first in British Columbia and then into Alberta. In personal injury insurance claims, your MacIsaac Group lawyer has available to him the resources of experienced insurance litigators, as well as professional backup and support, including consultants and investigators. Your MacIsaac Group lawyers use a ‘team approach’ in pursuing your personal injury insurance claim. With that, you can tap into the vast experience available to them.
The lawyers of the MacIsaac Group have acted for literally thousands of injured people from all over North America who have been injured in traffic accidents. In British Columbia and Alberta, your MacIsaac Group lawyers have well over 400 years of legal experience.