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Frequently Asked Questions
An important aspect of your case is that the timing of a lawsuit can be difficult to predict. It depends on many things, including actions the Defendant takes, court schedules and decisions you make. A lawsuit could take up to 2 years or longer to settle or go to trial. It can take less time too, though.
Most lawsuits go through the same basic steps, although not always in the same order. Some lawsuits skip some steps, and some steps are repeated many times over.
The steps listed here are the main steps that occur and will give you a general idea of what to expect.
- Gathering the Evidence. With your help, we are obligated to gather all of the available facts and medical information concerning the claim, including interviewing and taking statements from witnesses where required. We sometimes hire investigators or experts to help us. In your best interest, we may send you to specialists, usually in Vancouver, and we will get their reports.
- Starting the Lawsuit. Once we have obtained evidence, we shall begin by preparing the necessary documents and filing them in court. The court date-stamps all copies of the documents, keeping one copy for their official record. We then deliver filed copies to the Defendant’s lawyers or to the Defendant personally as the case warrants. This step also involves expenses such as court filing fees and document service fees.
- Interim Applications. After we start a lawsuit, but before any trial which may be contemplated, we or the Defendant’s lawyers sometimes need to ask the court to decide certain things. Going to court to ask for an Order is called an interim application. These interim applications are usually about how the lawsuit should be handled. For example, we might ask the court to order that the Defendant show us a particular letter or document that the Defendant would for some reason rather not let us see. The Defendant may make similar applications.
- Examination for Discovery. After gathering the facts, either we or the Defendant’s lawyers arrange an examination for discovery. At that time, we are permitted to question the Defendant about the accident if liability for the accident is an issue. In return, the Defendant’s lawyers are also permitted to question you about the accident and the injuries you have suffered, as well as the effect of the injuries on your employment and lifestyle.
- Review of the Law. Once we have a good idea of all the facts, we can then review the law. We will give you our legal opinion about what the likely outcome of a trial would be, and how much money you can expect to get as a result of the injuries and damages which have happened to you.
- Negotiation and Settlement. When it is appropriate, we will talk with the Defendant’s lawyers to see if they will settle the claim in accordance with your damages. A settlement is an agreement between the parties which sets out how they will resolve the claim. If the claim is settled, we would not need to go to a trial. Many times we attempt settlement through mediation, which is essentially a more formal settlement to meet with of the parties concerned.
- Preparation for Trial. We prepare a case for trial, including getting all the necessary documents together, arranging for all witnesses to attend and preparing any legal opinion.
- Trial. We act for you at trial. When the judge has decided the case, which could be a few weeks or even a few months after the trial, we prepare the court order (judgement) for the judge to sign, or in the event the other lawyer is to write up the judgement, we approve this to make sure it is correct.
- Completing the Claim. We do all the work necessary to complete the claim in your best interests. This includes giving you money from your settlement or judgement, after we have deducted our fees and expenses. In the unlikely event we have to start new steps such as appealing a court judgement to a higher court, it will warrant a new file.
- Social Media Sites. You should be aware that all social media sites (including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Squidoo, Flick, etc.) are not private. ICBC regularly gains access to these social media sites and requests information contained on them. You may also be required to produce electronic documents, such as email or photographs (for example, holidays or sports), if they are relevant. If you take a vacation or engage in sports, keep track of the events you do not participate in. The insurance company also employs private investigators and may take surveillance video of you. Please be mindful of this.
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