Jeff Nieuwenburg of Murphy Battista LLP’s Vancouver office provides an overview of what you need to know when hiring a lawyer.
If you are looking for a lawyer to represent you after a car accident or other injury there are a few important things to keep in mind.
The Law Society of British Columbia has a Lawyer Directory that shows if a lawyer is a practicing member, how long they have been in practice, and if there have been any disciplinary measures taken against them.
Even though lawyers are not allowed to call themselves “specialists,” the reality is that personal injury is a specialized field of law. Therefore, it is wise to make sure you hire someone who knows this specific area of law, has done personal injury claims, and has gone, and is prepared to go, to trial. If you want to research a lawyer’s track record in court on a particular type of case, you can read their past judgments through CANLii.
Most lawyers will do a free consultation over the phone or in person. There is no obligation to hire them at that point. The majority of personal injury lawyers do not charge hourly, rather they bill a percentage of the damages that you recover called a contingency fee. There is a cap of 33% of the claim for motor vehicle accidents and 40% for non-motor vehicle accidents in the contingency fee. Frequently, lawyers will set their contingency fees at a lower precentage and that amount will be set out in a contingency fee agreement that you will be asked to sign.
Bring all the paperwork related to the accident that you can. For example, the police report, doctors notes, photos from the scene of the accident, your ICBC case number, all notices or mail you have received from ICBC, witness information etc. For a comprehensive list click here and scroll down to the “Meeting Checklist.” If you don’t have some of these documents, don’t worry, your lawyer you hire will help you collect it.
Make sure you clarify how long have they been working as a personal injury lawyer, not just how long they have been practising. What sort of benefits are you entitled to through ICBC, and who is going to be handling your claim all the way through? Just because you met with a specific lawyer, does not mean you are obliged to hire them. Ask yourself whether you are comfortable with them. Did they take the time to answer your questions in a way that is clear to you? It’s important that they take the time to explain the process to you in a way that you can make informed decisions about your own case. It is always a good idea to get a second opinion. You are able to change lawyers at any time.
Andrew Brine of our Vancouver office provides an overview of human rights in the employment context with a focus on duty to accommodate persons with disabilities in the workplace.
Complaints against employers arise when employees with a disability experience adverse treatment or discrimination, that can include terminations, demotions or pay cuts. Most battles are fought over proving the employee’s disability was a factor in the employer’s adverse treatment.
Canadian human rights legislation imposes a positive duty on employers to accommodate persons with disabilities to the point of undue hardship. Accommodation can include modifying the physical workspace, temporary assignments, a leave of absence or a substantive change in job duties. Employees must provide sufficient medical information about their functional limitations to trigger the need for accommodation. They also must mitigate their losses.
Employers are not required to accommodate an employee if the required changes would result in an undue hardship for the employer. What circumstances will constitute “undue hardship” for an employer is determined on a case-by-case basis. Indicators that undue hardship may result include affordability of the required accommodations, operational needs, and an unreasonable change of standards. If an employer can demonstrate undue hardship, the employer is discharged from this duty.
In this seminar Raj Dewar, of our Surrey office, provides an overview of Part 7 Accident Benefits, ICBC tort claims and WorkSafeBC claims:
ICBC Part 7 Accident Benefits include medical and rehabilitation coverage up to $150,000, with additional amounts for disability payments per claimant. The deadline to apply is two years from the date of the crash regardless of age. These benefits are secondary to other coverage and available for several categories: mandatory, discretionary, Total Temporary Disability (TTD) for up to 104 weeks with a maximum of $300 per week for income loss or $145 per week for homemaker benefits and Excess Accident Benefits Policy up to $800 per week. For more information on Part 7 Benefits download A Layman’s Guide to ICBC Part 7 Benefits.
ICBC tort claims are intended to provide compensation for injuries, past wage loss, loss of future earnings, future care, loss of homemaking capacity, and out of pocket user fees. The limitation date is two years from the crash date, except for infants (persons under age 19) who have two years from the date they turn 19 to file a claim. Click to learn more about infant claims.
ICBC or Worksafe BC? If you were working at time of the crash, but other party was not, then you can elect to proceed under ICBC instead of WorkSafeBC. This is recommended as you would receive compensation for your injuries and losses under an ICBC tort claim, as well as Part 7 Accident Benefits. Get more information about tort claims under damages here.
This seminar gives an eye opening look at how the different facets of the ICBC No Fault claim may be related to you and those you love. It is shocking to note that everyone at some point in their lives may access this claim, and it’s important to arm yourself with the knowledge about how to utilize it to its full potential. There may be things that you can take advantage of, that you’re not aware of. Remember, ICBC doesn’t tell you everything. Let us.
Although we focus on persons with disabilities this is still highly informative for anyone, currently injured or not.