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The ins and outs of insurance: Navigating settlements following a personal injury claim

Kusuhara Law Corporation assists Japanese-speaking communities from its new Richmond location
Ryan Kusuhara.

Being injured in an accident can be financially, emotionally, and physically devastating, and the process of navigating insurance settlements and filing a personal injury claim can be just as overwhelming.

If you're involved in a motor vehicle accident, you'll be dealing with settlements through ICBC, the province's compulsory auto insurer. However, if you file any other personal injury claim, it will likely involve the insurance provider of whichever party is at fault.

To ensure your rights are protected and you receive a fair insurance settlement, it's in your best interest to retain a lawyer immediately following your accident or injury.

Recently, Surrey's Panorama Law Group, where lawyer Ryan Kusuhara served as managing director, has expanded its client reach to Richmond. Now, as an owner of Kusuhara Law Corporation, the new satellite operation is located within proximity to the Richmond-Brighouse Station for easy access to SkyTrain.

"As one of the few Japanese-speaking lawyers in the Lower Mainland, I felt an obligation to support the Japanese Canadian communities, particularly in Richmond," says Kusuhara. "Now we're more accessible and can better serve the community."

Kusuhara has recovered hundreds of thousands in settlement dollars in personal injury and related claims for his clients, a testament to his breadth of experience.

With expertise in ICBC claims and serious injury claims, Kusuhara highlights some important factors to empower you with the knowledge of navigating insurance settlements.

Understanding full and final settlement

The new satellite operation is located within proximity to the Richmond-Brighouse Station for easy access to SkyTrain. Photo via: Kusuhara Law Corporation.

Most serious injury cases should not be settled early, as it takes investigation, litigation, and time (expect two-three years for a trial date to be set), to uncover the true extent of liability and damages.

"When you accept a full and final settlement from a party, it binds you to a situation where you cannot seek any other remedy against the party on the subject that you've settled," explains Kusuhara.

"Settlements are complicated, so you need to take a close look at the money being offered and the fine details of the settlement. For instance, whether there are any confidentiality causes; such as whether you can talk to your friends and family about the case. As well, you may be entitled to compensation from a number of sources following your injury."

It may appear initially favourable to agree to full and final settlement, but Kusuhara cautions people to consider the long-term repercussions and risks.

"Future care costs are often underestimated by many individuals,” he explains. “These costs are not insignificant and depending on the circumstances, it's not unusual for the future cost of recovery to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars—from physiotherapy treatments to mental health.”

Assessing the value of your case

To ensure you receive a just settlement, your lawyer will help determine how much your case is worth.

"This falls under either personal injury claims or insurance claims," says Kusuhara. "Insurance claims are based on the insurance contract that you've entered, which generally defines the scope and extent of the benefits that you're entitled to.

He continues that, based on the specific circumstances, he can provide an individual assessment of what your case may be valued at.

"An injury claim is more dependent on specific facts of how you've been affected as a result of the injury, which is your lost income and the impact on your day-to-day life. It's based on an individualistic exercise; additionally, I'll provide educated advice based on comparable cases."

The importance of performing due diligence in finding the right lawyer cannot be understated: from compatibility to trust, and ensuring your lawyer has adequate experience is vital.

"A good lawyer will not only be interested in your bottom line but will also consider your health and well-being throughout the process," says Kusuhara. "It's one thing to get a large settlement, but if you significantly compromise your health in the legal process, what good is that to you?"

Kusuhara looks forward to serving his new Richmond clients, and says, "Anyone who mentions this article to me can book a free consultation."

For more information regarding how to pursue a personal injury claim and representation, contact Ryan Kusuhara at [email protected] or call 604-372-4550.