5 Claim misconceptions

If you have been hurt in an accident or as a result of medical negligence you will likely look to your friends and family for some advice on how to deal with the situation. These are the people you trust and it makes sense that you will look to them for help. Family and friends usually have your best interests in mind and do not want to see you taken advantage of. Unfortunately though, when it comes to ICBC claims or other accident claims, many people, particularly those who have not been through the process with the help of good legal counsel, will often be misinformed about things to do or not to do when dealing with ICBC or other matters. As a result, one of the biggest challenges I have in my job is to undo some of well-intentioned advice my clients have received from non-lawyers. Below are five common misconceptions that I find personal injury clients are often told by non-lawyers.


1. You should not go to work.

I will often hear clients say something like: “my friend says I shouldn’t go back to work.” The reality is that the decision to work or not work after an accident should be ultimately made by your doctor, not you. When I am asked this question by my clients, my advice is that if your doctor has recommended that you take time off work, then you should take it off. If your doctor is not supportive of you taking time off work then you should not take time off unless there are other valid reasons. If you choose to take time off work which is not supported by the medical evidence, then any wage loss you sustain will not be compensated.


2. You should not go on vacation.

Often I have clients who have pre-planned vacations but then the accident happens putting a hiccup in their plans. Friends or family will often say something like: “you have an ICBC claim, you can’t go on vacation now, ICBC will conclude that there is nothing wrong with you.” But life goes on after an accident in one form or another and you should generally continue to live your life as though a personal injury claim does not exist. If you are making a decision not to go on a pre-planned vacation purely for optic reasons (how you think it will appear to ICBC) then you are missing a trip that you should probably take. If you physically or mentally can’t go, that’s another story. My advice to clients with respect to vacations is that you should check with your doctor. If your doctor is of the view that it is safe for you to go on vacation and you want to go, then you should go. That being said, you need to understand that if you do go on vacation and you choose to do physically rigorous activities like bungee jumping, river rafting, horseback riding, sky diving, bull riding, etc. then be prepared for ICBC to suggest that you may not be that injured. You should also be prepared to hand over photos of your vacation.


3. You should not return to your physical activities.

Just like my advice with respect to vacations and working, the same holds true for physical activities. It all comes down to the advice of your doctor or other caregivers (specialists, physiotherapist, massage therapist, chiropractor, etc.). If they clear you to return to your activities, then you are not doing yourself any favours by sitting around the house. If you try an activity and it hurts, listen to your body and bring it up with your doctor at your next visit.


4. It is impossible to sue doctors.

I am always surprised when I hear someone say: “I thought you couldn’t sue doctors.” Yes, you can sue doctors, chiropractors, dentists, acupuncturists, etc. Medical malpractice claims are generally far more challenging than motor vehicle accident claims but it can be done if there is a valid claim. For more information on medical malpractice claims, see my previous article titled: Is it medical malpractice?


5. Lawyers are expensive.

Just like any other service, there is a cost involved but most personal injury lawyers work on a percentage basis, so barring unusual circumstances, the lawyer will easily pay for himself or herself. For more information on the cost of personal injury lawyers, see my previous article titled: Cost of an Injury Lawyer.


Those are just five of the misconceptions that I often hear, but there are others. Yes, you can do your own research on the internet and rely on the advice or experience of family and friends but you run a risk that the information you are getting is not accurate. Every case is unique and your case may require different advice than what is standard. At the end of the day, despite the good intentions of your family and friends, if you are receiving advice about any sort of legal claim it is always a good idea to seek that advice from a lawyer in the relevant field (i.e. personal injury, employment law, criminal law, family law, etc.).


*Important Note: The information contained in this column should not be treated by readers as legal advice and should not be relied on without detailed legal counsel being sought.

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About the Author

Keri Grenier is an experienced personal injury lawyer based at Murphy Battista LLP's Kelowna office. She also holds a B.A. in psychology. Her practice focuses on helping people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents or due to the negligence of others.

In her column, Keri provides practical information about personal injury claims in a format that is simple and easy to understand.

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.murphybattista.com

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/KelownaLawyer

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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