Starting the Process – Meeting your Hergott Law Lawyer
It is important that you be advised, as soon as possible following your injury, about your legal rights and how best to protect them. Insist that your initial consultation be 100% confidential (we have heard about lawyers contacting ICBC even before being retained, to assess settlement prospects), because getting legal advice could impact on how ICBC treats you. It is also important that you take the choice of lawyer very seriously, to ensure you find the right fit. The trust between an injured victim and his or her legal team is critical, and we insist that you interview with other law firms to ensure that you find the best fit.
In our initial consultation, we will explain the process and how we can best help you protect your rights.
Reviewing your Claim
Once we have been retained, we will spend whatever time may be necessary (typically anywhere from an hour to several hours) to interview you very comprehensively about your life and any medical issues leading up to the crash, about the crash itself and about your injuries, medical care, symptoms, and the way your injuries and symptoms have been impacting on you both at work as well as with your non-work activities/duties. We will provide you with a memo of the results of that interviewing project, so that you have that in writing and can let us know to the extent we may have misunderstood each other.
Advice & Coaching about Ongoing Care
We are lawyers, not doctors. We have no medical training, whatsoever. We have reviewed the medical recommendations and specialist medical reports for many, many, many car crash and other personal injury cases, though, which has given us valuable “on the job training” about what medical recommendations are likely to be made (column related).
The very best outcome is for you to 100% completely recover from your injuries. Yes, that means that your claim will be relatively small (because claim value has to do with the size of the loss and a temporary injury loss is much lower than that for a permanent injury). Even though a complete recovery will lower your claim (and correspondingly lower our percentage fees), this is something that we strive for with every claim.
By striving for a complete recovery, leaving no treatment stone unturned, we ensure that ICBC or another insurance company is not left with the “magic pill defence”, which is a defence where they say “if he/she would only have this one, more treatment, he/she would recover fully from his/her injuries”.
We will get updates from you on a regular basis to ensure you are seeing the proper medical professionals, and doing everything possible to recover from your injuries. If the publicly funded medical system is not providing you with the very best care, we will use relationships we have developed with the very best medical experts in your area to ensure you are seen/treated in a timely manner.
Preserving the Evidence
One of the most critical functions of a personal injury lawyer is to ensure that important evidence is preserved. Injuries and losses that we cannot prove will go uncompensated. Evidence needs to be identified and collected every step of the process to ensure we can prove the very real losses that you have sustained.
We encourage every one of our clients, as well as spouses/significant others, to keep a journal to “preserve the evidence” of the day to day impacts of crash injury symptoms. We discourage making daily journal entries, because that might lead fixation on negativity and be counterproductive to the recovery process, but weekly entries are important.
We also, early on, work to identify and interview “witnesses” so that their recollections are preserved. This doesn’t just mean crash witnesses, but most importantly means friend, neighbours, acquaintances friends and family members who will have noticed subtle, as well as not so subtle change in your behaviour/activities/mood after the crash.
Often the most challenging, and financially significant, loss is a loss to income (loss from the date of the crash to the present) or a loss of income earning capacity (loss into the future). Often, it is important to figure out as soon as possible following an injury what the income losses might be so that steps can be taken at that time to preserve information/evidence that can be used to prove that very important element of the claim.
Achieving a Fair Resolution
It will not be until you have recovered to the full extent possible, achieving “maximum medical improvement” (MMI) that we will be able to evaluate what fair financial compensation will mean for your case. Often, it takes at least 2-3 years before the medical system will come to the point of acknowledging that you have maximized your recovery.
ICBC or any other insurance company is likely to try to entice you into settlement negotiations on the basis of an optimistic prognosis before you have achieved MMI. They will be counting on you to optimistically assume that your injuries and symptoms will completely resolve over time and to settle your case for compensation for a temporary, rather than a permanent, injury. We will do our best to convince you to wait until your permanent prognosis is clear, but will follow your instructions every step of the process, whatever those instructions might be.
One you have reached MMI, we will give you an evaluation of what financial compensation would be fair for your injuries, the impact those injuries have had on your live to date, and the impact those injuries are likely to have on your life into the future. We will also propose a path of settlement negotiations most likely to achieve that level of compensation.
Going to Trial
ICBC and other insurance companies regularly pay fair compensation to settle claims before a trial. Our process for “encouraging” fair settlement offers is to prepare for trial in every one of our cases, showing to ICBC and other insurance companies that we will always be ready, willing and ready to prove our clients’ reasonable claims for fair compensation.
When the insurance company will not budge from their unreasonable settlement offer, we will recommend that you instruct us to prove your case at a trial. Paul Hergott at Hergott Law has trial experience (as well as experience in the British Columbia Court of Appeal), and Paul will always be directly involved in taking cases to trial. We are not afraid, in fact we welcome the opportunity, to fight for your rights.