Civil Lawsuits, ICBC, Personal Injury & Assault Litigation
The term “legal services” may include a broad range of services. In addition to providing legal representation, lawyers are able to provide summary advice. Even when you intend on handling your own legal proceedings, a lawyer may assist in more limited roles such as providing advice, guidance, or research. For example, a lawyer may advise on:
- Limitation dates that might affect your ability to sue, as well as time limits at various stages in the process;
- The proper Court and corresponding Court documents needed to start or respond to an action;
- Your legal position and risks to your ability to successfully sue or defend an action;
- The need for any expert evidence;
- Whether a settlement offer or plea bargain should be accepted;
- Whether an appeal should be commenced; and
- How to enforce court orders.
If you hire a lawyer, the following are examples of the services he or she will provide:
- Draft pleadings;
- Arrange for the proper filing and service of the documents on the other party;
- Take necessary steps to protect your best interests and ability to be successful in your law suit;
- Conduct necessary searches and investigations, and retain experts to assist your case;
- Help you obtain documents from the opposing party;
- Prepare your documents for disclosure to the other party, where necessary;
- Prepare you for questioning at an examination for discovery or at trial;
- Conduct questioning of the other party;
- Present your evidence at trial;
- Draft court orders;
- Make court applications;
- Advocate with community members on your behalf;
- Facilitate treatment or attendance at various programs; and
- Negotiate with the opposing party’s lawyer.
Regardless of whether you intend to hire a lawyer to assist you with your criminal or personal injury matter, you should seek advice when: 1) You are about to speak to the police, and 2) When you are about to speak to ICBC to report a car accident. This is because whatever you say to either party can and will be used against you.
When Speaking to Police
If you are being detained by the police and they are asking you questions, or about to ask you questions, you must be given the option to speak to a lawyer before providing answers. You are being detained (held against your will) if you are under the impression that you do not have the option to walk away without speaking with them. If you are unsure whether or not you are being detained, you should ask. If you are not allowed to walk away without answering questions, then you are being detained even if the officer says you are not being detained. Once you are detained the police must give you the option to speak with a lawyer before speaking to them. If you are not given this option, you should demand to speak to a lawyer. You should always take the opportunity to speak to a lawyer first so you can describe your situation and get advice on your rights, and what you should say, if anything, to the police. You have the right to speak to your lawyer of choice. If you do not have a lawyer of choice, or if your lawyer of choice is unavailable, you have the right to speak to a Legal Aid (no cost to you) lawyer. Every situation depends on its circumstances, and you are in a no-lose situation if you take the opportunity to speak to a lawyer. You are not obligated in any way to hire that lawyer for the matter in which you are seeking advice, and you are not obligated to follow his or her advice. For more information on criminal matters, see Criminal Defence <link to Criminal Defence page>.
When Reporting to ICBC
When speaking to ICBC, it is important to understand that they are an insurance company and they will attempt to reduce and limit the amount of money they pay you for your claim. They are not working for you, they are working for the insurance company. Generally, when you report a claim you will be asked seemingly “simple” questions about how the accident happened, and what injuries, if any, you have suffered. The details you provide will be recorded, and will be used against you later to limit the amount of money ICBC has to pay you in your claim. For example, if you suffered a soft-tissue injury in the accident, it may take a few days for the pain to set in, or for the injury to become apparent. If you speak with ICBC to report the accident and tell the adjuster you are “not injured”, because the injury is not apparent at the time, you may not be compensated later for your injury, or your claim may be reduced, because you initially reported that you did not have an injury. The same applies to recovering the cost of medical expenses. For more information regarding ICBC claims, see ICBC Claims.