After an eight day trial, a successful verdict was awarded for Klein Lawyers client Ms. G.A.* Michelle Ma and Almira Esmail, personal injury lawyers at Klein Lawyers, proved to the courts that Ms. A’s car accident injuries had life-long repercussions. She would be unable to work with limited daily life enjoyment because of a rear-end car accident, and not because of pre-existing medical issues.
In early 2008, Ms. A was rear-ended and her vehicle was pushed into the vehicle in front. The defendants denied liability. Ms. A was 52 at the time of the accident and was working as a Licensed Practical Nurse in a long-term care facility. Ms. A sustained multiple injuries to her jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and back, which resulted in headaches and chronic pain. She reported that because of the accident she was unable to work, she was disabled from future work and partially disabled from daily living activities.
Right from the outset ICBC took the position that pre-existing medical conditions, several previous accidents and a slip and fall accident were the primary causes of her disability and not this most recent car accident. The issues at the trial were causation of Ms. A’s injuries and quantification of damages.
At trial, several experts testified that the accident had indeed shortened her working life expectancy by 7 years and compromised her daily living activities.
The Honourable Madam Justice Warren found that there were significant injuries to the plaintiff as a direct result of the accident and awarded her over $240,000 in damages.
Michelle Ma explains, “In the G.A. MVA case, we achieved a trial result that recognized that even if you have a significant pre-accident medical history and subsequent injury, your life can be greatly affected by a motor vehicle accident. By achieving a trial judgment that was close to $100,000 more than ICBC’s final offer, we sent a message to ICBC that these cases need to be taken seriously and not marginalized”.
Klein Lawyers has an excellent success rate for motor vehicle accident trial outcomes. We advise our clients to go to trial when we believe ICBC’s offer does not fairly compensate the devastating effects of the car accident victim’s injuries.
“This trial was a real David and Goliath story”, reports Mark Lyons, partner at Klein Lawyers. Michelle and Almira took on ICBC and successfully got our client much more than they were offered prior to the trial. The trial was complicated and risky, but justice was achieved.”
*Initials used to protect the privacy of the client.
Q. You won several advocacy awards at University, including best-cross examination, best closing address to the jury and best oral advocate at a national competition in Ottawa. For a litigation lawyer, tell us how those awards translate into how you practice law today.
“An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory”. That quote by E.F. Schumacher, certainly rings true for courtroom advocacy! The McIntyre Cup and Sopinka Cup competitions, at which I won those advocacy awards, provided me with invaluable training. Even before I had my law degree, I had learned so much about running courtroom trials, thanks to months of rigorous preparation and training with my excellent coaches, both seasoned litigators, one of whom is now a provincial court judge.
In the plaintiff personal injury practice at Klein Lawyers, I analyze each case with a view to how it will unfold in court. If a case goes to trial, we have thoroughly prepared for that step in the litigation process. I frequently conduct Examinations for Discovery – a very important pre-trial step in the civil litigation process. This is where witnesses are questioned under oath. The skills I learned in the advocacy competitions in law school allow me to conduct Discoveries very effectively.
Q. Prior to joining Klein Lawyers, one of your jobs was working for the federal crown. Tell us about that job and how that experience helps the plaintiffs you work with today in personal injury and motor vehicle accident files.
As a crown counsel at the Vancouver criminal courthouse in the downtown east side, I was in court daily. I conducted countless trials and sentencing hearings. There was never a dull day prosecuting drug offences! In that job, I was an advocate for the crown. At Klein Lawyers, I am an advocate for an injured plaintiff, specifically those injured in car accidents. The experience and skill set is directly transferable. In both situations, I am tasked with seeing that justice is awarded.
Q. When you were at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada you prosecuted individuals charged with drug offences. You now advocate for plaintiffs. Why did you decide to practice law in plaintiff personal injury?
I enjoyed being a crown counsel but felt I had gained enough experience to switch to another area of law where I could put my talents to work for people who deserve compensation for wrongdoings. The clients at Klein Lawyers – whom I enjoy working with immensely – benefit from my diverse advocacy experience. I find it very rewarding to represent people who have suffered injuries through the negligence of others and due to no fault of their own.
You are in charge of preparing plaintiffs who have been in car accidents for Examinations for Discovery. Tell us about that role and how it helps the clients.
Examinations for Discovery are a crucial step – they can make or break a plaintiff’s case. Thorough preparation is key. Clients are often (understandably) nervous about being questioned by ICBC or other insurance company lawyers for hours under oath. I prepare them fully and guide them through it – with favourable results for their case.
Q. In your spare time, you frequently travel internationally. Tell us about your favourite trip.
I spent a few weeks in Nicaragua earlier this year and loved it. I did various adventure activities including surfing, scuba diving, and volcano boarding (yes there is such a thing!) One of my other favourite countries was Nepal, where I enjoyed multi-day treks through the Himalayas, paragliding, and white-water rafting and kayaking. I hope to travel to East Africa next year.
Between her travels you can find Almira at the Klein Lawyers Vancouver office working with her team of personal injury and motor vehicle accident lawyers and staff. You can contact her at 604-874-7171.
Car accidents leave drivers and passengers upset and disoriented. If injuries at your accident scene are not life threatening, try to stay calm and focused so you can concentrate on recording the facts of the accident. Securing witness information as quickly as possible to support your ICBC injury claim is also a top priority.
Eyewitnesses can support your ICBC claim
The Motor Vehicle Act states that drivers involved in accidents are required to remain at the scene, but witnesses have no such obligation. Yet, when assessing a car accident claim, ICBC will allocate liability–in other words, who is at fault and to what degree based on the evidence. If you believe you are not liable, confirming this by obtaining a statement from an unbiased witness who supports your understanding of the facts will greatly assist you with your claim. Witnesses generally want to help an auto accident victim who they perceive to be in the right.
Mark Lyons, senior personal injury lawyer reminds us, “We know we have to exchange information with the other driver in an accident, but equally important we have to get the names and addresses of any people who have witnessed the crash, including other motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and nearby home or shop owners.” Other drivers are not likely to leave the scene without exchanging information, but witnesses will usually move on as soon as they confirm there is no medical emergency. “At the very least,” advises Lyons, “get a name and phone number so you or your car accident lawyer can follow up as soon as possible.”
Alternatively, if witnesses are reluctant to get involved, give them your name and number and ask that they reach out after the accident. Also keep in mind that it is always best to have witnesses who were not directly involved in the accident.
Particularly helpful information to secure at the time of a car accident includes:
• Names, phone numbers, and or business cards from various witnesses
• Notation or photographs of license plates of any other vehicles in the area
• The location of any video cameras in the vicinity
Photographs do not lose their memory
The best way to document car accident evidence is to take photographs. If you have a mobile phone, camera, or iPad, take as many pictures at the accident site as you can. If you have suffered injuries that require you to leave the scene by an ambulance, ask someone else to take photographs for you.
Photographs of the following can especially help support your ICBC claim:
• The crash site and positioning of the vehicles before they are moved
• Any material damage to the vehicles
• Skid marks or accident debris on the road
• Air-bag deployments
• Visible injuries, such as cuts and bruises, that you have sustained.
Both eyewitness accounts and photographic evidence can make a significant difference in your fight to obtain fair compensation for an ICBC personal injury claim in BC.
Serious highway car accident between Salmon Arm & Golden, BC with multiple injuries: ICBC Settlement of $656,000
Highway car accident near Yale, BC with multiple broken bones and total vehicle write-off: ICBC Settlement of $240,000
T-bone car crash at Kingsway & Royal Oak Avenue in Burnaby, BC resulting in various soft-tissue injuries and chronic pain: ICBC Settlement of $162,500
If you have been in a serious car accident contact Klein Lawyers to have a free review of your car accident case.