I’m Injured! Should I Hire A lawyer?
One of the questions I get asked most often is “When do I know I need a lawyer?” or “How long after sustaining an injury should I wait to consult a lawyer?” These questions can come up in a variety of circumstances including motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls and other cases involving personal injury. There is not a specific answer to the question, but my rule of thumb is the more significant or long-lasting your injuries are or the greater your inability to get back to your life, the more important it is to talk to a lawyer quickly.
For example, if your injury is resolved within a few weeks and you are fully back to your pre-accident condition, the amount of compensation you might be entitled to will be relatively small and so you may not want to hire a lawyer as you will have to pay a portion of that settlement to legal fees. However, if your injuries last for a longer period of time or you are having complications in returning to your pre-accident life (i.e. you cannot go back to work or enjoy the same activities as you did before) you may want to consult a lawyer to ensure you are getting treated fairly by ICBC or any other insurance company that may be involved.
You should note that while ICBC is a regulated Crown corporation, its interest and motivation lies in minimizing settlement amounts. It is important to remember in these circumstances that while ICBC is ‘your insurance company’ they are not obligated to act in your best interest. That is the role of a lawyer – they are obligated to act only in your best interest and they can be helpful in explaining the settlement or litigation process. In addition, lawyers generally offer free initial consultation and furthermore, many injury cases are taken on contingency, which means that you don’t pay fees unless a settlement is reached.
The bottom line is that there is no magic time to retain a lawyer, but it is a good idea to consult a lawyer early and let them do an initial assessment and provide you with some guidance for your particular case.