January 21, 2016

Kristina Shelden, Resource Coordinator, PIRC

How much does the lawyer charge?

There are two different ways a lawyer can charge: at an hourly rate – which charges you up front, or by contingency fee agreements. Murphy Battista LLP charges by contingency.

Contingency fees and agreements

What is contingency you ask? As Irina Kordic, lawyer with Murphy Battista states:

A Contingency Fee Agreement (CFA) is a contract between a law firm (or lawyer) and the client in a case where legal fees are payable as a percentage of the amount recovered as damages. Under a CFA, the legal fees are payable only if the case is successful. This means that, if the case is not successful, the client does not pay any legal fees.

Put simply; you are only charged if you are awarded a sum recovered as damages. Chatting with a lawyer to get advice or learn if you have a potential case, and utilizing our resource centre, does not cost you a thing.

For more detailed information on CFA’s, please see Irina’s blog post Contingency Fee Agreements in Personal Injury Actions.

Should I get a second opinion?

Yes. Definitely. We recommend that you speak with more than one lawyer to ensure you feel as good as possible about who you’ve chosen to represent you. This is an incredibly important aspect of getting you back to your best and setting up your future so we advocate for you speaking with more than one lawyer before choosing who you go with, even if it means you don’t choose us. Don’t settle, and do your research. Make sure you find someone with your best interests in mind, not a quick and easy settlement. Some lawyers never or rarely go to Court and the reality is that insurance companies are more likely to settle for a reasonable sum if they are dealing with a lawyer who has a strong track record of successfully taking cases to trial. There are many lawyers out there who will take on a case and settle quickly to get an easy pay cheque. You want someone willing to fight for you, go to court for you if needed, to ensure you are given what’s truly fair and reasonable. The lawyers at Murphy Battista have been involved in some of the largest trial awards in BC. You can review their recent case results HERE.

I already have a lawyer, but I’m not happy. What can I do?

I get asked this question fairly often at the Resource Centre and most times clients think they’re stuck with whomever they’ve currently signed with. This is not the case. It is no problem to switch lawyers. In fact, a significant number of Murphy Battista’s clients have switched from someone they no longer wanted to work with. And there’s no need for you to worry about having to ‘pay out’ your previous lawyer or go through the awkward process of telling them you no longer require their services. Murphy Battista takes care of everything and makes the switch for you. Rarely is there an additional amount to pay as most often the lawyers split the contingency fee. Make sure to discuss this with your lawyer when making the switch.

How long can a case last?

Truthfully? It can take years depending on the nature and severity of the injuries and evidence involved. It’s unrealistic to expect a settlement quickly – and if a lawyer promises you one, it likely won’t be at all what you could be owed. Oftentimes the impact of injuries take a long time to develop and plateau and the parties involved want to have a fairly accurate assessment of what your future will look like – this, unfortunately, takes quite a bit of time. In addition, if you find a good firm, they won’t shirk from taking that time to fight for you. Remember, you don’t want someone eager to settle quickly. It’s important to be patient and let you lawyer use his or her skills in dealing with the opposing party. It’s difficult to say specifically as every case is different, but to give you a ballpark figure, complex cases can take approximately 2-3 years.

Having said that, we know there can be quite a bit of pressure whilst dealing with a new disability; physically, emotionally and financially. You need to be focused on your recovery, not on making money. It’s important to find a firm, such as Murphy Battista, who takes this financial pressure into consideration. For more information, see Scott Stanley’s blog: What You Should Know about Litigation Financing.

My accident was a while ago; can I still start a claim?

That depends on how much time has passed. According to the Limitation Act in BC, an adult has 2 years from the date of an injury to begin a claim. There are rules and exceptions that may extend that, but generally it’s a good idea to expect it to be 2 years. For a child, the 2 years doesn’t begin until their 19th birthday. However, there are some instances where the limitation can start to run earlier and expire before a child turns 21. It is always better to get legal advice as soon as possible. This avoids the risk of running past a limitation, but also allows the lawyer to immediately begin collecting evidence, garnering witnesses and checking fresh reports on the incident. As time passes memories stale and information can get lost, so it is best to begin as soon as possible to strengthen your case. Joe Murphy, QC and Stephen Gibson discuss the limitation periods (the statute of limitations) and infant personal injury claims HERE

If you’re past the 2 year point and are curious if you may fall under the exceptions, please contact one of our lawyers to discuss your situation.

You can find more information on these topics on Episode 26 of AM 650’s The Law Show, where Murphy Battista lawyers Stephen Gibson and Scott Stanley discuss the importance of retaining an experienced lawyer to guide a child’s personal injury case, litigation loans, some options that allow injured people to avoid this form of financing, and key questions that should be asked when you’re in the process of retaining a lawyer.


How to contact us:

If you have any questions about these topics, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

The Personal Injury Resource Centre runs a free Legal Advice Clinic between 2 and 6pm on the third Friday of every month. You can sign up by contacting filling out our online form.

Or, if you require immediate assistance, please call the main office at 604-683-9621 to be connected with one of our lawyers.

Contact us for a free consultation

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