Pedestrians are more likely to be injured during the winter.

With the winter in Vancouver comes darkness and lots of rain. This makes it much harder for motorists to see or react to pedestrians. The dark and rainy conditions result in lower than usual visibility. The wet and sometimes icy conditions make it much harder for drivers to bring their vehicles to a stop when they do see a pedestrian in the road.  According to ICBC, 76% more pedestrians are injured in motor vehicle accidents when lighting and weather conditions are poor:

ICBC launches pedestrian safety campaign

Being injured as a pedestrian can be especially devastating as you are far more likely to suffer a large brain or spinal injury outside the protection of a vehicle. In British Columbia 1 in every motor vehicle related deaths is a pedestrian.

The worst part of all of this is that in many situations pedestrians can be found liable for car accidents. This is especially true during the winter, where the simple act of wearing dark clothing can lead to you being found liable for a car accident. As always, it pays to talk to a lawyer early in the process and before you contact ICBC in any way. A poorly worded statement can be the difference between a fair settlement and nothing.

pedestrian

The penalty for being caught using your cell phone while driving has increased: the “crotches kill” campaign.

As of last Monday (October 21, 2014), the penalty of using a hands free device, including a cellular phone, while driving has increased.

http://globalnews.ca/news/1624055/stiffer-distracted-driving-penalties-as-of-monday/

Prior to Monday the penalty was merely a $167 fine. As of Monday the penalty now includes 3 demerit points on your license. An increase in the fine is also being reviewed.

Why was this new steeper penalty put in place? My guess is the previous solely fine based penalty was not effective. As per my previous post, according to ICBC, distracted driving is now the second leading cause of car accident related deaths:

Distracted Driving is Now the Second Leading Cause of Car Accident Related Deaths

Some may see this as a simple cash grab. However, as easy as it is to be cynical about any government policy change that involves a fine (or in this case demerits that often have to be purchased back) or any information from ICBC, it’s important to keep in mind that both have a vested interest in keeping people out of car accidents in the first place. The governments greatest expense is health care. ICBC’s greatest expense is payouts from accidents.

According to recent info published on ICBC’s expenses, payouts on claims account for 75% of ICBC’s expenses:

http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ocg/ias/pdf_docs/ICBC_Review_2012.pdf

Drive safe people and put away those cell phones. As according to the Traffic Safety Commission “crotches kill”.

Contingency Fees and Your Personal Injury Case.

It is common in British Columbia for lawyers to provide legal services in personal injury cases in exchange for a contingency fee. A contingency fee is a percentage of the amount a case settles for. In British Columbia, the law society has set a maximum that lawyers are allowed to charge in personal injury cases at 33 and 1/3 % (a third). Different lawyers will charge different rates. However, the fee alone should not be the determinative factor when choosing a lawyer. A better lawyer should be able to get you a higher overall settlement and a higher net payment, even if they are charging a slightly higher contingency rate.

There are advantages to both lawyers and clients in the contingency model, as opposed to the alternative, which is charging at an hourly rate. The advantage to the client is that they do not have to pay for a lawyer bills until their case settles (and they actually have the funds). This can be especially advantageous to people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents and are unable to work. It can often be difficult to get compensation from ICBC for wages losses prior to settlement. Many clients are, therefore, left in financial peril and paying a lawyer thousands of dollars upfront simply is not an option.

The advantage to the lawyer is that their potential profit increases. A contingency fee on a large case can, in itself, be a substantial sum. The disadvantage to the lawyer is that they must take considerable risk. Not every personal injury file is guaranteed to produce a substantial settlement or any at all. The lawyer must typically also fund the case. The cost of which can be substantial, with many medical experts charging upwards of $10,000 for a medical legal report and just as much for a court appearance.

contingency fees

What exactly is a physiotherapist?

People who have been injured in car accidents have a wide range and often confusing amount of potential treatments available to them. It is important to actually understand what each form of treatment actually is. In this article I will be talking about physiotherapists (not to be confused with a physical therapist).

In Canada physiotherapists are a regulated profession. Like lawyers or doctors, each province has their own regulatory body to regulate their physiotherapists. The Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia’s website can be found here:

http://bcphysio.org/content/what-physiotherapy

As per this website a physiotherapist is described as:

“Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession dedicated to working with people to identify and maximize their ability to move and function throughout their lifespan.

Specifically, physiotherapists improve clients’ quality of life by:

  • Promoting optimal mobility, physical activity and overall health and wellness;
  • Preventing disease, injury, and disability;
  • Managing acute and chronic conditions, activity limitations, and participation restrictions;
  • Improving and maintaining optimal functional independence and physical performance;
  • Rehabilitating injury and the effects of disease or disability with therapeutic exercise programs and other interventions; and
  • Educating and planning maintenance and support programs to prevent re-occurrence, re-injury or functional decline.

Physiotherapy is anchored in movement sciences and aims to enhance or restore function of multiple body systems. The profession is committed to health, lifestyle and quality of life. This holistic approach incorporates a broad range of physical and physiological therapeutic interventions and aids.

Physiotherapy services are those that are performed by physiotherapists or any other trained individuals working under a physiotherapist’s direction and supervision.”

As stated in my other articles, when you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, ICBC has an obligation to pay for a portion of your physiotherapy. ICBC must pay regardless of who is at fault for the accident. It is important when choosing a physiotherapist that the therapist be registered. This not only ensures that you are getting professional and competent treatment, but ICBC only has an obligation to pay for treatment provided by a registered physiotherapist.

As previously, discussed a failure to get proper treatment may also cause the courts to see you as a “malingerer” and decrease your overall award. During settlement negotiations, the other side is likely to pick up on this and, as a result, offer you a lower settlement.

It is my experience, that my clients find physiotherapy to be an extremely helpful and efficient tool in their recovery process. As always, I recommend that you discuss any potential treatment with a doctor.

physiotherapy

Who will fund my personal injury case?

Disbursements are the expenses of your personal injury case. Typically lawyers working on a contingency will pay for your disbursements. They may or may not charge you interest. The amount of interest a lawyer charges you is something you should be aware of and work into your calculation of what the true cost of your lawyer is.

The biggest disbursements are typically medical legal expenses. The person who is responsible for causing the accident is typically responsible for paying for disbursements that are found to be both “necessary” and “reasonable”.

What is necessary and reasonable was dealt with in a recent Supreme Court of British Columbia case, where a plaintiff suffered a serious injury in a roll-over style car accident:

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/14/18/2014BCSC1844.htm

Here several substantial disbursements were in dispute. The cost of a neuropsychologist was allowed. Even though the neuropsychologist did not ultimately find a brain injury, at the time the report was ordered there was a possibility of a brain injury. The relevant time is when the cost is incurred.

The cost for a functional capacity evaluation, which evaluate a plaintiffs ability to work, was denied, as the judge found that at the time of ordering the report, there was not a real and substantial probability of future wage losses.

This case illustrates another important benefit of hiring a lawyer, which is funding your case. Here the cost of the litigation easily topped the $20,000.00 mark. The lawyer presumably funded the injured party’s case.

449px-Bank_vault_1901

Distracted Driving is Now the Second Leading Cause of Car Accident Related Deaths

According to recent research distracted driving is now the second leading cause of driving fatalities. Driving with excessive speed is second, and drunk driving is third.

http://globalnews.ca/video/1545331/distracted-driving-now-the-second-cause-of-bc-crash-fatalities

This has, according to ICBC, resulted in an increase in rear end motor vehicle accidents of 14%. As a lawyer in Vancouver, British Columbia, I can attest to rear end collisions being one of the most common causes of personal injury. The majority of the cases I’ve worked on have involved rear end collisions.

From the perspective of an injured party, the rear end situation creates few liability issues. There is a general assumption that the party who has struck another vehicle from behind has been negligent. This can increase the ease at which an injured party can gain a fair settlement. However, this general assumption is not a strict rule. I will discuss this in a later blog posting dealing with rear end collisions and liability, but there are several circumstances where the driver of the car who has been struck from behind can still be found partially or entirely at fault.

texting car accident

Is this new epidemic of texting and driving an example of technology actually decreasing our safety? Are people putting their own safety, and the safety of others on the road, at risk for the sake of convenience?

As always I invite your comments, and if you have been injured by a texter (or anyone), please contact me for a free consultation.