The Top Ten Mistakes That Could Screw Up Your ICBC Claim, Mistake #1
This series, by BC personal injury lawyer Paul Mitchell Q.C., will explain the Top Ten mistakes to avoid with your ICBC personal injury claim. The articles will give tips on how to ensure you do not make serious mistakes that could be fatal to your claim. For 10 issues of Legal Alert, Paul will focus on one mistake you should avoid, and what you should do instead to ensure your ICBC personal injury claim is not prejudiced.
Mistake # 1, Settling Your Case Without A Lawyer
By far the biggest mistake you can make with an ICBC claim, or any personal injury claim, is trying to settle your case without a lawyer.
The adjuster will discourage you from hiring a lawyer. They know a lawyer will maximize your settlement.
In fact ICBC adjusters are trained to encourage claimants not to hire a lawyer. They are trained to take advantage of claimants, to ensure they do not get independent advice, so they can settle for as little as possible.
Yes this sounds self serving, as I am a personal injury lawyer.
But the simple reality is that ICBC will take advantage of you without a lawyer, and you risk settling for much less than you would if you had a lawyer, even after paying their fees.
Say a lawyer charges 30%. Your claim is worth $80,000, and ICBC convinces you to settle for $15,000. They will say “you just saved 33 1/3 % in legal fees! You just saved $5,000 !”.
Do the math.
This happens very often.
I have seen many examples where ICBC has offered an amount that was ridiculously low, as a “final offer”, and way too early, trying to convince the claimant “that is all the claim is worth”, and will say, “your lawyer will only take fees off the top for no reason”.
Some people fall for this, to their detriment.
The old saying goes “Penny wise and pound foolish”. It certainly applies to ICBC cases, like most other things.
I have been involved with many of cases where the adjuster has tried to take advantage of unrepresented claimants and offers them a ridiculously low ”final offer”, or tried to convince the claimant to settle before their injury has stabilized, and before anyone can properly quantify the claim.
Every case is different of course, but the point is…. should you really rely on someone who is acting for the person who caused your accident?
Should you rely on someone who is paying for your claim, to tell you what your claim is actually worth?
I don’t think so.
This is spelled “conflict of interest”.
ICBC will try and convince you otherwise.
As WC Fields once said, “a sucker is born every minute”.
ICBC really hopes you will be one of them.
They are paid to settle your claim for as little as possible, and as early as possible.
Why would you believe anything they say?
They are acting for the person who caused your injury. Why would you rely on them….for anything?
This is particularly important when the claim has any on going long term pain, or potential impact on future earning power.
These claims are very complex, and require many experts to properly quantify your claim. Medical experts, vocational experts, and the list goes on.
It is not as simple as “grabbing a number out of the air”, as ICBC would like you to believe. The number they “grab” is usually very low.
When I need advice or services on anything, that are not minor, I hire the best.
I do not want to regret anything after a project is done.
As I tell some clients, If you are not a carpenter, would you try and build a house from scratch, on your own?
Look at your own occupation. How many people with absolutely no experience could do as good a job as you in performing your services that you do every day?
Would I try and fix a dent in my own car, repair my own computer, fix my own teeth, or …the list goes on.
Not a chance, unless it is a very minor issue, and I can do the task with no training at all, and risk doing a lousy job, and learn to live with it, as the downside is so small.
ICBC cases are usually not minor. The downside in attempting to muddle along on your own is often very large.
Yes, you can try and settle the claim on your own.
Yes, you can save some legal fees in the process.
But the likelihood is you will leave a bunch of money on the table doing it on your own.
Don’t rely on ICBC when they tell you “what your claim is worth”, or that it is “time to settle”, or “you don’t need a lawyer…trust me !”
The more they try and convince you not to see lawyer, chances are, the more you likely need one.
Don’t be a sucker.
Don’t make a mistake.
Make your case.
Paul Mitchell, Q.C.is a BC personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience with severe injury claims, including brain injury claims, spinal injury claims, death claims, ICBC claims, medical malpractice claims, and other catastrophic injury claims. He acts for injured clients all over BC and Alberta, and will not act for ICBC or any other insurance company.
For more information on this article, or for a confidential discussion of your personal injury claim, contact Paul Mitchell, Q.C. at 250-869-1115 (direct line), or send him a confidential email at firstname.lastname@example.org