Personal injury lawyers have many roles throughout the course of a lawsuit. One important ongoing role is to gather facts and evidence to support the injured person’s claim. In many personal injury cases, that will include expert evidence to support or strengthen the claim of the plaintiff. Generally speaking, if an issue falls outside of the normal experience of a layperson, it will be necessary to hire a person possessing specialized skill and knowledge – in other words, an expert – to provide an opinion at trial that will assist the trier of fact (the judge or a jury) in deciding that particular issue. An expert’s opinion can also be very helpful during settlement discussions with ICBC and the defendant’s lawyer and may convince ICBC to settle the claim without going to trial. In fact, settlement discussions, mediations, and trials alike regularly boil down to a battle of the experts (for example, the plaintiff’s expert says the defendant is at fault for the accident while the defendant’s expert says the plaintiff is at fault; or the plaintiff’s expert says the plaintiff is seriously, permanently injured while the defendant’s expert says the plaintiff’s injuries are insignificant and not expected to last).
What types of experts might be involved in a personal injury case? Expert evidence may be necessary in relation to a number of legal or factual issues that arise in a claim for personal injury compensation. Depending on the nature of the case, personal injury lawyers may retain the following types of experts to provide an opinion: • An accident reconstruction expert or engineer to comment on liability for the accident (this may include matters such as night-time visibility, tire friction, driver response time, or the probability that the accident occurred in the manner alleged by the defendant); • A doctor, dentist, psychologist, or other specialist (e.g. a physiatrist or orthopedic surgeon) to provide an opinion on the nature or extent of injuries sustained as a result of the accident, whether the accident aggravated pre-existing issues, and the prognosis for recovery from the injuries; • An occupational therapist who will conduct a Functional Capacity Assessment (also called a Work Capacity Evaluation) if the injuries prevent the plaintiff from working; • An expert to justify and/or quantify a claim for future losses such as diminished earning capacity or the cost of future medical care; and • An economist to calculate income loss, income tax gross-up, or the present value of future care costs. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. An experienced personal injury lawyer will have the knowledge to assess each claim and determine the expert opinions needed to advance each aspect of the claim. It is important to note that ICBC is entitled to request that a plaintiff attend an Independent Medical Examination (“IME”) – essentially, this is a medical or occupational assessment to gather recommendations about the nature of the plaintiff’s injuries, abilities, or future treatment requirements. If the opposing party serves an expert report following an IME (or in relation to a non-medical issue such as liability or the present value of future care costs) it may be necessary for the plaintiff to retain an expert to provide an opinion about the matter at hand or to critique the other expert’s opinion. How do I decide which expert to hire, and who pays for the expert? The personal injury lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP frequently use the evidence of medical, rehabilitation, engineering and accounting experts to advance a client’s case. Because we have chosen to limit our practice to personal injury claims, we have developed a wide network of professional resources and have experience handling expert medical evidence. Call us now (toll-free, 24 hours a day) at 1-855-852-5100 for a free initial consultation. Our personal injury lawyers would be pleased to talk with you about your case. If you hire the personal injury lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP to represent you, our office will in most cases handle the expenses involved in starting and running your personal injury lawsuit. These expenses, which are also known as disbursements, include the fees relating to hiring expert witnesses. We cover the cost of these items for you and wait to collect them from the settlement or court-awarded funds. The BC Supreme Court Rules allow for the recovery of most (but not all) disbursements from ICBC as part of a personal injury claim. Wherever possible, we recover disbursements from ICBC (or other insurer) as part of the resolution of your case. In cases where this is not possible, the remainder is deducted from the settlement monies we obtain for you. Legal Guidance & More, from Injury to Recovery Bronson Jones & Company LLP exclusively represents victims of motor vehicle accidents, and that’s all we do! Unlike other law firms which deal with everything from dog bites to divorce, Bronson Jones has built more than 30 years of trial experience and in negotiating fair settlements for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents. We’ve also developed an extensive network of medical and occupational specialists, therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and others to help you recover and deal with the impact of your injury on your physical health, family life, finances and future. Additionally, such reports may be essential in the development of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call any of the 13 Bronson Jones locations in the Lower Mainland for our expertise and advice. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.