Personal injury clients sometimes come to me with cases that don’t look winnable to them. There are usually one of two reasons for this. Either they know the car accident was not their fault but they don’t have any witnesses to support their version of what happened. Or, the injured client does have witnesses that can give evidence that the car accident was not their fault but their doctor does not accept the fact that the client has been injured. Here is a recent example of the first situation – and one with a great ending!
Mrs. R’s car accident claim
My client, Mrs. R, was involved in a car accident in 2007. She had come to a stop at a red light and was rear-ended by another driver who had been talking on his cell phone and not paying attention. The other driver, the Defendant, refused to take responsibility for the accident and claimed Mrs. R. had suddenly changed lanes into his lane without signaling and then suddenly stopped giving him no opportunity to avoid rear-ending her. The Defendant managed to round up a witness who supported his version of the events. Mrs. R. had a passenger in her vehicle. Unfortunately the passenger spoke very poor English. When the ICBC adjuster interviewed her – without an interpreter, it was very easy for the adjuster to put words in the passenger’s mouth in an effort to strengthen the Defendant’s version of what happened. The passenger ended up signing a written statement repeating the Defendant’s version of the accident.
Things went from bad to worse for poor Mrs. R. Before hiring me, she hired a lawyer who just ‘sat on the file’ as the years went by. [Remember, the accident was in 2007.] She eventually fired that lawyer and hired me.
I believed my client. I set to work getting all our ‘ducks in a row’. I immediately obtained a trial date for Mrs. R. Then I ordered a medical-legal report from her doctor. Next, I spoke with her employer and obtained all the evidence I needed to prove the loss of income Mrs. R. had suffered due to the accident.
I knew Mrs. R.’s evidence at trial was going to be extremely important because of the Defendant’s witness and the passenger’s signed statement. My team at the office began preparing her on a daily basis. That’s because we never raise the white flag.
Just one week before the trial, I learned that the ICBC lawyer had lost track of the witness the Defendant had rounded up. This was our first big break but … the playing field was still not level: there was still the problem of the passenger’s signed statement.
Four days before the trial, the passenger learned for the first time that her employer would not give her time off to give evidence at trial. The ICBC lawyer could only put her signed statement into evidence if she was at trial. The simple solution for ICBC would have been to subpoena the passenger. The subpoena would have overridden the employer’s refusal to give her time off. But, the ICBC lawyer had left it too late. With only four days to go there wasn’t enough time left for the ICBC lawyer to go to Court to get the subpoena and have it served on the passenger in time for the trial.
ICBC realizes their case is much weaker
Without any witnesses, ICBC knew they suddenly had a much weaker case on their hands and faced the very real prospect of a complete defeat. With two days to go before the trial, ICBC put a very nice offer on the table which Mrs. R. was delighted to accept. For icing on the cake, I insisted that ICBC structure the settlement in a way that meant Mrs. R. did not need to pay back any of the employment insurance benefits she had received for eight months after car accident.
A good story – and a real one. If you know you are in the right, get ready to do battle!
If you need help with your car accident claim, don’t hesitate to call Tim Louis & Company at 604-732-7678.