Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sound legal advice is worth it!

One of the changes I've noticed in my law practice over the years is the increase in the number of people suffering stress-related injuries from motor vehicle accidents. No longer is it a question of just the pure physical injuries such as broken bones, whiplash etc. that brings them to my office.

There was a time when the Courts were not sympathetic to these types of claims in motor vehicle accidents except in the most horrific of cases. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] was accepted as an outcome for soldiers returning from the battlefield but not associated with motor vehicle accidents. This is no longer the case. There is a growing recognition in the Courts that this very disabling condition can just as easily result from motor vehicle accidents. I have many recent cases where psychiatrists have been called upon to give expert evidence at trial on this very possibility.

Because it is an invisible disability, initially it may be missed by your family doctor and your lawyer. I recently had a case where the client's physical injuries were quite minor and my client was prepared to accept ICBC's offer based on these physical injuries alone. Given my sensitivity to the potential for PTSD in motor vehicle accidents, I have become alert to cues that signal the possible existance of this condition. In this case, I referred my client to a psychiatrist who diagnosed PTSD. This diagnosis opened the door to a claim for future loss of income as there are much longerterm effects of PTSD which can affect a person's ability to work.

My client's claim without the diagnosis of PTSD was worth approximately $30,000.00. With the recognition of the impacts of PTSD, his claim was worth approximately $300,000.00.

Invisibile disabilities are easily overlooked. This is just one more reason why you should never accept ICBC's offer without very careful consideration and sound legal advice.


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