Why Choose Zak and Decker?

Our Personal Injury Law Team

Joseph A. Zak

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Joseph A. Zak

Lawyer | Year of Call - 1980

Joseph grew up in southern B.C. in Boundary Country and attended the University of British Columbia graduating with a combined degree in commerce and law. He moved to Kamloops to begin his legal career and has remained in the city ever since. His practice is focused on helping clients who are suffering personal injuries or loss through motor vehicle collisions, slip and fall accidents, and faulty or defective products. Joseph represents many clients throughout BC and Alberta who have been denied coverage by their insurance companies. Incorporating mediations and settlement conferences are a routine part of what he does to advance the interests of his clients. He believes strongly in the principals of seeking fair justice for those who have been injured or wronged by the negligence of others.

Education
  • Bachelor of Law – University of British Columbia (1979)
  • Bachelor of Commerce – University of British Columbia (1978)
Professional Associations
  • Law Society of British Columbia – Unauthorized Practice Committee
  • CBA National Insurance Law Section - Past Chair
  • Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia - Board of Governors
  • Kamloops Bar Association
  • American Association for Justice
Volunteer Activities
  • St. Ann’s Academy Advisory Board - Past Chair
  • Kamloops Brain Injury Association - Member
  • TLABC Kamloops Roundtable Conference - Chair
  • Northern Brain Injury Conference - Presenter

Tara J. Decker

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Tara J. Decker

Lawyer | Year of Call - 1997

Tara was born and raised in a farming community in Saskatchewan and moved to British Columbia to attend law school. While at the University of British Columbia she met her husband and, following graduation, returned with him to his home town of Kamloops. Tara articled with HMZ Law (now Zak & Decker Personal Injury Lawyers) where she continues to practice and is a managing partner. Her areas of practice include insurance litigation, personal injury law, and estate law. Always interested in sharing her specialized knowledge with others, she has been a guest lecturer at Thompson Rivers University’s Faculty of Law and has presented talks to the Canadian Defence Lawyers, brain injury organizations, and medical residents over the years.

Education
  • Bachelor of Law, UBC (1996)
  • Bachelor of Arts, with honours – University of Saskatchewan (1993)
Professional Associations
  • Law Society of British Columbia
  • Kamloops Bar Association
  • Canadian Defence Lawyers
  • Defence Research Institute (U.S.)
Volunteer Activities
  • Interior Health Authority West – Clinical Ethics Committee
  • Girl Guides of Canada: Deputy Provincial Commissioner
  • United Way: Women Leadership Council - Board of Directors
  • Kamloops Brain Injury Association – Board of Directors

Kelsey O'Bray

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Kelsey O'Bray

Lawyer | Year of Call – 2010

After obtaining her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Victoria, Kelsey completed her articles at a large firm in Vancouver, gaining experience in complex commercial and insurance litigation matters. She returned to her home town of Kamloops to practice commercial and insurance litigation at a small, local firm. In 2014, she joined Zak & Decker (formerly HMZ Law) to shift her practice solely to personal injury litigation. Kelsey has represented clients in a variety of civil matters in both the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Provincial Court of British Columbia and Alberta. Her practice is largely focused on helping clients with personal injuries as a result of motor vehicle collisions and slip and falls, ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve. In her free time Kelsey is an active member of the Women Lawyers Forum and Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia and enjoys skiing and travel.

Education
  • Juris Doctor – University of Victoria (2009)
  • Bachelor of Arts – University of Victoria (2005)
Professional Associations
  • Law Society of British Columbia
  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Kamloops Bar Association
  • Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia
Volunteer Activities
  • Kamloops Women Lawyers Forum - Executive member
  • Kamloops Inns of Court Program - Committee member

Mervin L. Sadden

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Mervin L. Sadden

Lawyer | Year of Call – 1990

Merv is new to our firm but not to our city. For the past 27 years Merv has dedicated his career to representing individuals throughout BC and Alberta who have sustained injury at the fault of others. The majority of his clients come to him as a result of being injured in motor vehicle accidents. As a motorcycle rider and enthusiast, he has a particular interest representing those who become injured while riding. His niche practice representing injured riders is rooted in his dual passions for riding and his 27 years of advocating for the injured. Merv has established a practice and a reputation of preparing each case from day one as if it is bound for trial. His “no short cuts” approach ensures that each case will be well prepared for trial if a reasonable settlement is not possible. Merv is a regular speaker and author of informative articles designed to educate the public about their rights should they become injured. He also speaks at motorcycle safety training courses for new riders. Away from the office Merv can be found exploring the many back roads of our province on his dual sport motorcycle.

Education
  • Bachelor of Laws – University of Saskatchewan (1989)
  • Bachelor of Arts – University of Saskatchewan (1989)
Professional Associations
  • Law Society of British Columbia
  • Law Society of Saskatchewan (non-practicing)
  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Kamloops Bar Association
  • Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia

Tracy Greer

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Tracy Greer

Articling Student | Anticipated Year of Call - 2017

Tracey grew up in Cranbrook and attended the University of British Columbia where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts with a Double Major in history and Canadian studies before moving to Kamloops where she achieved her Juris Doctor at Thompson Rivers University. Her academic background of Canadian studies and politics fueled her desire to pursue a career in law to advocate for people who need legal assistance. Articling at Zak & Decker Personal Injury Lawyers has presented Tracey the opportunity to learn from the skilled and experienced counsel of the law team. She is a member of both the Law Society of British Columbia and the Kamloops Bar Association and, when not delving into legal work, she volunteers and enjoys swimming, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

Education
  • Juris Doctor – Thompson Rivers University (2016)
  • Bachelor of Arts – University of British Columbia (2013)
Professional Associations
  • Law Society of British Columbia
  • Kamloops Bar Association
Volunteer Activities
  • Kamloops Big Brothers and Sisters - Traditional Mentor

Injuries and Damages

All cases are unique and not all injuries are immediately apparent. We work with experienced medical experts to establish the extent of the injuries—both physical and psychological. We also determine the impact that the car accident has had (and may continue to have) on your family's livelihood, lifestyle, and well-being. When these parameters are defined, a fair settlement can be negotiated.

ICBC Claim Tips

Beware of Early Settlement Offers

ICBC Claim Tips

Beware of Early Settlement Offers

ICBC Claim Tips

It's common for an insurance company to offer you a quick settlement after a serious injury. It is not advised to accept this settlement, as it is difficult to appreciate the extent that the injury will impact future livelihood and lifestyle in the future. If you accept this settlement, you will lose your right to receive additional money, even if it is established that you may be entitled to more.

Contact a Lawyer First

ICBC Claim Tips

Contact a Lawyer before speaking to ICBC

ICBC Claim Tips

You will be contacted by ICBC for a personal or signed statement regarding your car accident. Without the advice or presence of a personal injury lawyer, you could say something in the statement which will negatively affect your case.

Document and Protect Evidence

ICBC Claim Tips

Document and Protect Evidence

ICBC Claim Tips

All details of the car accident need to be documented and witnesses need to be promptly interviewed. Key details include weather, driving conditions, and time of day. Take photographs of the vehicles and all damages including skid marks, road signs, and lights. A copy of the police report is also beneficial.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Avoid Blind Spots

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Avoid Blind Spots

Motorcycle Safety Tips

The "blind spot" is the area around a vehicle that its driver is unable to see when shoulder checking or using the mirrors. Vehicles come in various shapes and sizes and as such, the size and location of the blind spot varies. Riding in someone's blind spot is particularly dangerous to those of us on motorbikes as we are more vulnerable to an injury if an accident occurs. Thankfully there are some steps we can take to minimize the risk these blind spots create.

When following a vehicle, remain a comfortable distance behind it so that you will be clearly visible in its rearview mirror. If you need to pass, activate your signal light and then move into the passing lane while still a comfortable distance behind the vehicle. Position your bike to the left side of the passing lane to increase the cushion of space between you and the vehicle. Complete your pass in an efficient and controlled manner minimizing the time you spend travelling through the vehicles blind spot. Never overtake a vehicle as it approaches an intersection. The less time we spend travelling in a blind spot the safer our ride will be.

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Wear the Gear

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Wear the Gear

Motorcycle Safety Tips

With our warm summer weather it can be tempting to go for a ride without the proper protective gear. We have all seen it — riders and passengers on their bikes in nothing but a helmet, t-shirt and shorts. It may look cool, but is it worth the risk? Thankfully, BC Law mandates that all occupants on motorcycles wear a motorcycle helmet that meets designated safety standards. Helmets come in a variety of styles from half helmets all the way to the full face version that protects our entire head.

We are all aware of the growing awareness of concussions and their consequences. As such, the wisdom in wearing the best protection for our heads cannot be overstated. In addition to helmets, proper riding gear includes, at a minimum, motorcycle pants, a long sleeved jacket and gloves all designed with armor plates in the appropriate areas to provide protection against road rash in the event of a crash. A good pair of riding boots that provides protection for our feet, ankles, and shins is also important. Today’s technology provides for a selection of fabrics that are lightweight and comfortable to wear even in warm weather while still providing good protection from injury. No matter what gear we may own, it will only protect against injury if we wear it.

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Sharing Our Roads

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Sharing Our Roads

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Whether you chalk it up to global warming or plain old Kamloops good luck, spring seems to be well on its way. For those of us that ride, this means we will soon be insuring our motorcycles. With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to dedicate this column to a few tips I have been taught to assist vehicles and riders to share our roads safely. First, we simply have to remember that motorcycles will soon be on the roads, so we all have to be vigilant and double check our blind spots. As riders, we want to make sure we are both seen and heard; wear reflective and visible clothing, ensure our lights are operating, minimize any time travelling in blind spots and use our horn to alert others of our presence. People sometimes see better with their ears!

Early season riding presents other challenges. Roads may have pot holes and deposits of sand and other debris not yet cleared by street sweepers. This is of particular concern while cornering. With awareness and an understanding attitude, we should all be able to enjoy our roads safely.

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Night Riding

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Night Riding

Motorcycle Safety Tips

My rule is to avoid riding at night if at all possible. Sometimes, however, it cannot be avoided and as such, we need to be mindful of the additional risks it presents. Here are a few tips I found helpful:

Visibility:

Darkness can actually improve how visible we are to other motorists if we are properly illuminated. To enhance our presence, we should wear Hi-Vis reflective gear and add reflective strips to our bikes. Replacing the bike's stock head lamp with a better after-market product could also be explored.

Road Debris:

Coming upon debris on the road while riding is a hazard at any time. This risk is compounded at night. To reduce this risk, we should only drive as fast as our headlights can illuminate the road in front of us. Our ability to avoid a collision is improved with the more time we have to react.

Animals:

Encountering an animal at night can be devastating. They are unpredictable and often most active at night. We can reduce our chances of hitting one by paying attention to road signs warning of their presence, reducing our speed, and by constantly scanning the road and ditches ahead for signs of their presence. Even a fraction of a second of advance notice can make a difference.

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Maintain a Safety Zone

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Maintain a Safety Zone

Motorcycle Safety Tips

The sad truth is that the most common words I hear from the motorists that collide with my motorcycle clients are: I didn’t see him. Recognizing this, there are precautions we can take as riders to minimize that risk. One is to wear visible and reflective clothing. Be seen!

Another is to always be aware of our position on the road relative to the traffic around us and plan a safe emergency exit. As our bikes are not equipped with airbags, bumpers, or seat belts, it is critical that we maintain a cushion of space around us at all times.

For example, when stopping behind a vehicle always leave plenty of open space ahead of you in case the vehicle behind you does not stop. While stationary, monitor your mirrors and keep your bike in gear with your hand on the clutch so you can accelerate forward if necessary. That open space is your safety zone. The more space around you, the safer you will be. Constant awareness of the traffic around us while maintaining a cushion of open space and a planned safe escape route will increase our chances of an accident free ride.

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Liability Insurance

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Liability Insurance

Motorcycle Safety Tips

My experience is that most people spend very little time thinking about insurance and in general it is not well understood. What is liability insurance anyway? It is the insurance we buy for our vehicles to pay for any damage we cause to others when we cause an accident.

For example, while riding our motorcycle we may strike and injure a pedestrian in a cross walk. That person's claim for injury and loss is against the driver and owner of the motorcycle. The liability insurance we buy on our motorcycle is there to pay for that loss so that we do not have to pay for it personally. If the motorcycle was uninsured, then the driver and owner would be personally liable to pay for the loss.

So how much liability insurance should we buy? My recommendation is at least $3 million on a motorcycle. The difference in the premium cost between $1 million and $3 million is minimal. Ask your agent.

Remember - if you injure your passenger their claim is against you. You will want to make sure that you have adequate insurance to cover the loss incurred by your friend or loved one. As we are not protected by a cabin, seat belt, or airbag, injuries in motorcycle accidents can be very serious.

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Early Season Riding

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Early Season Riding

Motorcycle Safety Tips

After the winter break it can take awhile to regain our comfort and confidence while riding. This is particularly true for new riders. With this in mind, I thought I would pass on a few safety tips I have been taught. For starters, make sure your motorcycle has been serviced by a licensed mechanic to ensure it is mechanically safe. Plan your first rides at times and locations when traffic is low.

Practice emergency braking and obstacle avoidance in an empty parking lot. Be mindful of the temperature; riding in cold or wet weather can slow our reflexes and reduce our ability to react quickly to traffic demands.

There are many other steps we can take to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident. If you have not done so previously, enroll in a professional motorcycle training course. Review and practice the tips and exercises set out in the Learn To Ride Smart and Tuning Up For Riders publications available from ICBC. Plan rides with more experienced riders and discuss with them the safety tips they employ while riding. A lifelong commitment to training and practice sharpens our skills and is our best measure to ensure a safe riding season

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