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Hiring a Lawyer: Avoid the pitfalls.
- Is there any harm in my hiring a member of a law firm who also does work for ICBC?
- Several law firms across the province work for ICBC and also for injured people.
If a law firm wants to work for ICBC, it must sign what ICBC calls a "strategic alliance" agreement with ICBC. In this agreement, all members of the firm must agree to not claim punitive or aggravated damages against ICBC on behalf of their injured clients or to claim that ICBC has acted in bad faith towards their injured clients.
ICBC is your insurer for your Accident Benefits (disability and rehabilitation benefits). The law imposes on it a duty to act in the utmost of good faith towards you regarding your Accident Benefits. What if ICBC acts in bad faith towards you after you have hired your lawyer? Will your lawyer be able to sue ICBC for bad faith, or at least threaten to do so if ICBC does not reinstate your Accident Benefits? The conduct of the person who injured you may give you the right to claim aggravated or punitive damages against him. Will your lawyer be able to bring such a claim on your behalf, considering his firm's agreement with ICBC?
The Law Society of B. C. requires that lawyers whose firms enter into these agreements with ICBC must advise their clients of their relationship with ICBC, the restrictions on the lawyers and the implications of those restrictions.
Ask yourself if there is a possible conflict of interest if a lawyer represents you when his firm has entered into this restrictive agreement with ICBC. Is it possible that the lawyer may be even tempted to soft pedal parts of your claim?