While we have provided these resources for your benefit, overall, the easiest way to have your questions answered is to come in and meet with one of our lawyers for a free initial consultation.
Why should I get a lawyer to represent me in my injury claim?
When it comes to assessing your claim and your entitlement to damages, wage loss, treatment and such, insurance companies like ICBC do not share the same interests you have, namely maximizing your claim based on your particular circumstances and situation.
The lawyer’s duty is to represent your interests and to ensure that all important aspects of your claim are investigated, properly supported and advanced. Your lawyer is looking after your interests, not ICBC’s or the insurance company’s.
Because ICBC and other insurance companies deal with personal injury claims on a regular basis and the average accident victim does not, you will not be on a level playing field when you try to deal with your claim on your own.
Your lawyer can deal with the necessary paper work and technical aspects of your claim with ICBC or other insurance companies so you can focus on your rehabilitation, treatments and recovery.
Why is it important to speak to a lawyer soon after your accident?
Having a lawyer working with you from the start ensures that your rights and your claim are properly protected.
Certain limitation dates may apply to your claim and your lawyer will review them and make sure you don’t miss them.
The decisions you make soon after your accident can affect your settlement or the outcome at trial.
It is not uncommon for an insurance company to limit the number and types of treatments you can access. A lawyer can explain what funding is available and the types of treatments covered. If funding is cut off, the lawyer can advocate on your behalf to have additional treatment paid for.
Is my case worth pursuing?
Our office is happy to offer a free consultation during which we will talk to you about the type of case you may have. The potential amount of damages and types of damages depend on the facts of your case. As a general rule, an injury or injuries that require prolonged treatment and recovery or that have a greater impact on your recreational pursuits, quality of life, employment or future plans typically receive higher compensation.
What may at first appear to be a minor injury could end up having a significant impact on your employment or enjoyment of life, and conversely, a major injury may resolve quickly and only have a temporary impact on your employment or enjoyment of life. Some injuries resolve quickly, some take years to heal, and some injuries are permanent. No two cases are the same. The number and duration of injuries is only one aspect of assessing the value of your claim.
At an initial consultation, the lawyer can explain the types of damages that you could expect and at the very least explain the basic legal framework to you so you can better understand the options and make an informed decision on how you want to proceed.
How do I pay for my lawyer?
On personal injury matters, we work on a contingency fee basis, so we don’t get our legal fees paid until you get paid. We do have a standard written Contingency Fee Agreement which explains in detail how the fees are calculated. We always encourage our clients to review the Contingency Fee Agreement before signing it and we are always happy to answer any questions the client may have about it.
Will I have to go to court?
The vast majority of personal injury files settle without having to go to court. The cases that go all the way to trial typically fall into two categories: a) cases where fault for the accident is a big issue; and b) cases where the nature and causation of injuries is a big issue. We make every effort to obtain a fair settlement without putting you through the stress of a trial, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. If a trial is necessary, the lawyers at Findlay Gunnell Sandor have decades of courtroom and trial experience and will guide you through the entire trial process.
How long will it take to resolve my claim?
This depends on how your injuries progress. For example, if you have recovered within 12 months, then you and your lawyer can consider settlement at that time. Generally, about 50% of cases settle within two years.
It is important not to settle your claim too early because a settlement is final and you risk the possibility of not obtaining all the compensation you could be entitled to. The lawyers at Findlay Gunnell Sandor have decades of negotiating experience and will carefully review the pros and cons of the amount and timing of any settlement.
I can’t work because of my accident. Will ICBC cover my lost wages?
Yes and no. Your actual wage loss (net of taxes) will form a part of your tort claim against the at fault driver. Your total past wage loss will be assessed as a part of your settlement or judgment following a trial. Prior to settlement or trial, you may be entitled to receive ICBC’s no fault Part VII wage loss benefits to a maximum of $300 per week for 104 weeks. In order to qualify for Part VII no fault wage loss benefits you must be totally disabled from employment for at least 7 days within the first 21 days of the accident and you must have worked a total of 6 months during the 12 months before the accident. Also, depending on the circumstances, ICBC may require you to apply for EI and your private disability plan if you have one before paying you these benefits. If you are unable to work because of the accident, it is important to bring your last pay stub or tax return to your lawyer as soon as possible so that wage loss benefits can be explored at the earliest possible date.
What if I am found partially at fault for the accident by ICBC? Can I fight it?
Every case is determined on its facts, and just because ICBC has found you at fault, doesn’t mean that’s a final decision. Even if you are found partially responsible, you likely still have a case. Issues of liability can become quite technical and that is one of the reasons it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer looking out for your interests.
What if I have pre-existing injuries? Will my claim be worth less?
No, but you won’t be compensated for the symptoms or disability arising from your pre-existing injury. If your pre-existing injuries are aggravated by the accident, you are entitled to compensation for that.
The other driver left the scene of the accident. Can I still make a claim when there is a hit and run?
Absolutely you can make a claim, but there are special rules that apply to hit and run accidents and short limitation periods for filling out the proper paper work. If you are involved in a hit and run accident, at a minimum you should do the following as soon as you can
- Get the name and contact information of any witnesses at the scene of the accident
- Post a sign in the area of the accident asking any witnesses to contact you
- Report the accident to the police
- Seek legal advice
- Report the claim to ICBC
Why should I hire a local law firm?
The law is the same for accident victims whether your lawyer is from Maple Ridge or downtown.
Downtown law firms don’t guarantee better legal representation. Having said that, Bart Findlay and Martha Sandor both practiced law in downtown Vancouver before establishing Findlay Gunnell Sandor in Maple Ridge. Both have conducted cases in the BC Court of Appeal and both have extensive BC Supreme Court and BC Provincial Court experience throughout the Lower Mainland including Vancouver, New Westminster, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Richmond and Port Coquitlam.
Findlay Gunnell Sandor’s office is centrally located in the business district in Maple Ridge. You can access our office without fighting highway rush hours and if you need to get in to see us, you can arrange to come in on your way to work, on your lunch hour or day off and not have to travel for hours and fight rush hour traffic.
Findlay Gunnell Sandor has been an active member of the Maple Ridge community for decades and has a long track record of supporting a number of important community initiatives such as the Maple Ridge Hospital Foundation, the Maple Ridge Community Foundation, the Maple Ridge Youth Diversion Program, the Maple Ridge Community Legal Assistance Program, the Maple Ridge Chamber of Commerce and the Maple Ridge Rotary to name a few. We consider ourselves a part of the community, with roots in the community and with a stake in making it a better place to live for everybody.
Do I need to be in the Lower Mainland to retain Findlay Gunnell Sandor as my lawyers?
Although the majority of our clients live and work in the Lower Mainland, we have a history of representing clients throughout the province, and even those who live outside of BC.
Do you only represent people in car accidents involving ICBC? What about bicycles and other injuries?
While the majority of our clients are car accident victims, we also represent clients involved in a broad range of personal injury cases including: slip and fall claims, cycling accidents and assault claims. Personal injury claims not involving car accidents may not easily fit into a particular category and we invite you to come in for a free initial consultation so that we can we can hear your story and help evaluate your potential claim.
What if English isn’t my first language?
In terms of the court process, Findlay Gunnell Sandor prepares and guides all of its clients through the court/settlement processes. Where necessary, translation services are also available.