The Canadian Bar Insurance Association
Personal Injury

Knowledge of cultural gaps helps personal injury clients

Understanding an accident victim's language and culture is an important element in building trust and treating conditions properly, Toronto personal injury lawyer Juan Carranza writes in Lawyers Weekly.  Read Lawyers Weekly

Carranza, principal of Carranza LLP, writes that studies have shown people tend to trust others who look and sound like them, and conversely, distrust people who are different - a scenario often seen in immigrant personal injury cases.

"Many newcomers are not able to have their version of events considered after an accident," he writes, noting language barriers can cause problems. "The result is a police report that only reflects the adverse party's version. A lawyer meeting a client might conclude there is no merit in pursuing a claim if the person is deemed at fault in the police report. So, if the physicians and lawyers on the side of the accident victim are not able to help, imagine what awaits that person if the claim makes it to the insurance adjuster's desk, or the insurance doctors."

One way to avoid a message getting lost in translation is to have a personal injury lawyer that understands the client's language and culture, he writes.

"As with language, it will be impossible for one person to become an expert in all the cultures of the world," writes Carranza. "The answer is to become culturally competent; that is: become aware of our own cultural world view, our attitude toward cultural differences, acquire knowledge of different cultural practices, and develop cross-cultural skills."

For a personal injury lawyer, he writes, it is crucial to understand how the cultural gaps affect the client's experiences.

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