Accident & Injury Lawyer
Brent Handel was appointed a Queen’s Counsel (Q.C.) on December 30, 2011. This honorary title is intended to recognize a lawyer’s achievement and standing in the legal profession, professional integrity, and outstanding contribution to the legal profession and to the community. Currently, there are 9,567 active lawyers in Alberta. Of those active lawyers only 41 lawyers are chosen every two years to receive the honour of Q.C.
Why Choose Brent Handel, Q.C.?
It is important to have a lawyer who has trial experience and experience at the appeal court appealing trial judgments. Brent Handel has conducted numerous complex lengthy personal injury trials and also appealed personal injury trial decisions to the Alberta Court of Appeal. This insures that the defendant insurance company will take any offers seriously, as they know your counsel has the ability to go to trial if they do not make a fair counteroffer. However going to trial is both sides’ worst case scenario.
The outcomes are difficult to predict due to the dynamics of live testimony and the cross examination, which will take place of each witness which may bring about evidence that either party did not anticipate. For example, at a recent Edmonton five week injury trial 40 witnesses were called to give testimony all of whom are then subject to cross-examination by the other lawyer. Obviously, predicting the outcome of all of this testimony is a very difficult task.
Furthermore, neither party can choose the trial judge and each trial judge has his or her own views on matters which can sometimes be surprising. As a result of this, despite it being desirable to have a lawyer with trial experience, the fact of the matter is 98% of personal injury cases are settled without a trial.
Therefore, it is also very important to have a lawyer who is highly skilled in negotiation and mediation as the vast majority of cases will in fact be settled and the outcome of your case will be determined by the skill of your lawyer in negotiation or a mediation. Sometimes a mediation using a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench, which is known as a Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR), is utilized as well, but this is just another form of mediation.
To summarize, at a mediation or JDR be aware that the final settlement is a direct function of the experience and talent of the lawyers involved. Written briefs arguing each side of the case must be prepared prior to the meditation, which are reviewed by the mediator or JDR Justice, and then at the mediation the tactics and skill of the counsel involved make a dramatic difference in the final settlement outcome. Do not leave your future financial independence in the hands of a junior lawyer or someone who does not have a great deal of experience negotiating injury claims or fatal accident claims. See our May, 2014 Blog post entitled, “Sophisticated Negotiation – How To Win At Mediation”.
Brent Handel Q.C. wrote an article which appears in The Lawyers Weekly, a newspaper for lawyers across Canada.
Validity of chronic fatigue bolstered by research
The article draws attention to recent research which validates the physiological basis of ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome).
This article has now been re-published on September 30, 2015 on the United States based MEAction website – http://www.meaction.net.
Brent Handel, Q.C. has also written and had published numerous articles in “The Barrister”, the trade publication of the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association.
Brent Handel, Q.C. has also volunteered his time over the years to teach continuing education courses to other lawyers with the Legal Education Society of Alberta. Finally, Brent Handel has taught a university level business law course to university students for many years.
“Brent is a very capable, compassionate and practical lawyer who is
very experienced in handling serious personal injury claims.”
Case Comment on the Alberta Court of Appeal decision in McLaren v. McLaren Estate, 2011 ABCA 299
By Cheryl Yingst Bartel and Brent L. Handel, Q.C.
We took this case to the Alberta Court of Appeal and one issue at appeal was the consideration, if any, to give to government funded care costs when considering the award for future treatment costs. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeal failed to explain why the funding risk was expected to be “modest”, when the same Court had accepted in Cherwoniak v. Walker, supra, that a Trial Judge was entitled to entirely disregard the provision of government services in making an award of cost of future care, and several lower Courts had also made this determination.
In rejecting this ground of appeal, the Court of Appeal, McLaren Estate, supra, now stands in contrast to the Court of Appeal’s decision in Cherwoniak v.Walker, supra. How the two decisions can be reconciled is – unfortunately – left for another day. An interesting question is whether the same result would have been reached had Mrs. McLaren been paying for private psychological services at the time of the trial, instead of accessing those publicly available, but that too is left for another day.
Other issues include the duty to supervise learning drivers and the importance of causation in any negligence case. In summary, McLaren Estate, supra, stands as an important case with respect to the duty of supervision of learning drivers. As well, it is an important reminder to counsel that merely to establish negligent acts is not sufficient to ground negligence. A further inquiry must be made as to whether those actions caused or contributed to the injuries which ultimately occurred. This analysis is particularly crucial when the duty to supervise the allegedly negligent actions of another is at issue. Finally, this decision is also important for its lack of clarity in the interplay between future cost of care awards in the face of government funded outpatient programs.
Brent L. Handel, Q.C. was counsel at trial for Mrs. McLaren and co-counsel before the Alberta Court of Appeal. He practices with Handel Law Firm in Red Deer in the area of civil litigation with a focus on catastrophic personal injury claims and wrongful death claims.
Cheryl Yingst Bartel was co-counsel for Mrs. McLaren before the Alberta Court of Appeal in McLaren v. McLaren Estate. Cheryl practices as an independent legal consultant, and provides senior research, writing and analysis services to lawyers. She is also named to both provincial and federal rosters as a mediator and adjudicator