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FAQ – Motor Vehicle Accidents

Q. Will hiring an injury lawyer impact my ICBC claim negatively?

A. No, personal injury lawyers teach you about your rights, advise you how much money your claim is worth, and, work to ensure that you are legally protected.

Preszler Law BC’s lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we take on the costs of your lawsuit for you until the settlement or judgment; we do not ask for any money up front; and, there is no fee unless we recover money for you.

Personal injury lawyers are nearly always able to increase the amount of money you receive for your settlement, even after the fees are deducted.

Q. How can an accident lawyer help me with ICBC?

A. Our accident lawyers know the law. They will teach you about your rights and advise you how much your claim is worth. We handle all aspects of the lawsuit for you so that you can focus on your recovery.

If you do not know your rights or what your claim is worth, then you may settle for a low or unfair amount. ICBC wants to lower your settlement as much as possible. ICBC is a business seeking to maximize its profits.

ICBC will hire a lawyer to defend its interests. This lawyer does not represent you and will actively seek to harm your case. A personal injury lawyer works to even the power balance between you and ICBC.

ICBC or ICBC’s lawyer will take notes of everything you say. It is important to know your rights so that you do not say or do something that will hurt your case. Once retained, Preszler Law BC will deal with ICBC and their lawyer for you.

Personal injury lawyers will help coordinate your treatment and rehabilitation. We know the best doctors, physiotherapists and health professionals. Getting the best treatment increases the chances of getting back to work and your regular life.

ICBC should pay for all or most of your treatment and up to $300 each week in income replacement if you are not able to return to work. Preszler Law BC works to ensure that ICBC pays for your treatment expenses (physiotherapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, occupational therapy, etc.) and pays your weekly income replacement benefit.

Q. What if I can’t afford to hire a lawyer?

A. If you have a claim, then you can likely afford to hire Preszler Law BC. We work on a contingency fee basis. We take on the expenses of your lawsuit for you until you receive your settlement. We do not ask for any money up front. Our fee is a percentage of the money we recover for you. We do not charge a fee unless we recover money for you.

In nearly all cases, personal injury lawyers are able to recover more money than you can on your own, even after the fees are deducted.

Q. If an ICBC adjuster offers a settlement, what should I do?

A. ICBC may try to offer you a low settlement before you have retained a lawyer and know your rights. Before accepting any settlement, it is important to speak with a personal injury lawyer. Even if you do not retain a lawyer, an initial free consultation can provide you with important legal information to help you make informed decisions about your settlement.

You should consider retaining a personal injury lawyer before settling your claim. In nearly all cases, personal injury lawyers are able to recover more money than you can on your own, even after the fees are deducted.

Q. Are there special considerations if I have been in a motorcycle accident?

A. Generally, no. People driving motorcycles are subject to the same laws as people driving cars other than the fact that motorcyclists should wear helmets and protective gear.

In cases where both parties deny fault for the accident, it will be necessary to reconstruct how the accident happened. In these cases, it can be important to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the safety rules specific to motorcycles, such as the different lane positions, and how motorcycles react when involved in an accident, such as their tendency to accelerate and produce a falsely high speedometer reading.

Q. What if I was a cyclist at the time of my accident?

A. Cyclists hit by motor vehicles are able to make ICBC claims.

ICBC should pay for the treatment you reasonably need to recover from your injuries. ICBC commonly pays for physiotherapy, medication, massage therapy and chiropractic care to help treat your injuries. If you need to attend the gym, then ICBC should pay for your gym pass. If you have driving anxiety, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, then ICBC should pay for your counseling.

You are also likely entitled to make a claim against the driver who caused your accident. You may recover damages for pain and suffering, out of pocket expenses, treatment expenses, loss of income, housekeeping expenses and more.

Call today to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced lawyers.

Q. If a loved one was killed in a motor vehicle collision, what rights do surviving family members have?

A. In British Columbia, the Family Compensation Act allows spouses, parents or children of a deceased person to recover the loss of financial support and income caused by a wrongful death.

If a loved one is killed in a motor vehicle accident, then ICBC should be paying for funeral and death benefits.

Q. What are the symptoms of whiplash?

A. The general symptoms of whiplash are:

  • Pain, decreased range of motion, tenderness, and/or tightness in the neck or back. The muscles may feel hard or knotted.
  • Pain when moving your head side to side.
  • Headaches

In more severe cases, people can suffer weakness, numbness, tingling or other neurological symptoms.

Some people feel whiplash symptoms immediately. Others do not feel them until hours or days after an accident.

Q. How are spinal cord and whiplash injuries treated?

A. In severe cases, spinal cord injuries may be treated with surgery and, initially, back or neck immobilizers. Surgery is followed by extensive rehabilitation to increase your range of movement and strength. Speak to your doctor about the best treatments.

For whiplash and related injuries, it is important to visit your doctor to report your injuries. Err on the side of caution; your injury may be more serious than you think, especially if you have numbness, tingling or pain radiating into your arms or legs. ICBC may also argue that the fact you did not attend the doctor soon after the accident is evidence that you were not injured.

Doctors generally recommend that you ice your neck or back soon after a whiplash injury to help reduce the swelling. Take painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication when recommended.

After your initial visit, your doctor will generally refer you to physiotherapy, massage or chiropractic care. Initially, your therapists will work on relaxing your tense muscles and getting full range of movement back. Eventually, your therapists will focus on strengthening your neck and back through stretches and exercises. It is important to follow the routines carefully and as directed by your health professionals.

For people who go on to develop chronic pain, they may need special treatment by a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals who specialize in treating pain. If you are not recovering after 12 months of pain, it is important to talk to your doctor about treatment options.

In all cases of whiplash or spinal cord injuries, it is important to stay in contact with your family doctor. Your family doctor is the quarterback of your treatment team. They coordinate your treatment and refer you to the appropriate specialists.

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, then ICBC should be paying for most or all of your treatment. Talk to a Preszler Law BC lawyer to learn more about what treatments ICBC should be covering.

Q. What are the signs of a brain injury?

A. Severe and moderate brain injuries generally occur when someone suffers a strong blow to the head and loses consciousness for more than twenty minutes.

Brain injuries do not only occur when someone has been hit on the head. The force of rapidly moving your head back and forth in a rear-end car accident, for example, can cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull and suffer an injury.

Not everyone who suffers a concussion or brain injury is knocked unconscious. Some people merely suffer an altered state of awareness — like feeling dizzy, dazed or confused.

Common symptoms of a brain injury or concussion include:

  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Personality changes and impulsivity
  • Trouble with speech or word finding
  • Irritability or a quick temper
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with hearing, taste, smell or eye sight

Anyone who believes they may have suffered a brain injury or concussion should see a doctor immediately. Always err on the side of caution.

Q. Should I contact a lawyer about a brain injury stemming from an accident?

A. Yes, brain injuries and concussions can cause serious, long-term consequences. People who have suffered brain injuries or concussions can be entitled to substantial settlements due to the severity of their injury.

Lawsuits involving brain injuries often involve complicated medical and legal issues that should be handled by experienced lawyers. Making a mistake on your case could negatively affect your ability to recover fair compensation.

Q. What kind of treatment does ICBC pay for?

A. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, then ICBC should be paying for the treatment you reasonably need to recover from your injuries.

ICBC commonly pays for physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic care to help treat your pain. If you need to attend the gym, then ICBC should pay for your gym pass. If you have driving anxiety, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, then ICBC should pay for your counseling. Talk to a Preszler Law BC lawyer to find out if ICBC should be paying for your treatment.

Q. Who will pay to fix my damaged vehicle?

A. If ICBC determines that you caused the accident, then your insurance will pay to fix your vehicle. You will likely need to pay a deductible and your insurance premiums may be increased.

If ICBC determines that the accident was not your fault, then the other driver’s insurance should pay to fix your vehicle. You will not need to pay a deductible and your premiums will likely not be affected.

If you disagree with ICBC’s determination of who caused the accident, then you can dispute the decision. It is best to speak with a lawyer about your options.

If ICBC is not paying you fair value for your vehicle, then you can file for an arbitration hearing. Speak to a lawyer to learn more.

Q. How do I know if ICBC is offering a fair settlement?

A. In order to know if you have been offered a fair settlement, you need to know:

  • who caused your accident, legally speaking;
  • what your injuries are;
  • how long your injuries will last and how they will affect you long-term;
  • how much your injuries will affect your work and personal life;
  • how much income you will lose over your lifetime due to your injuries;
  • what treatment you need now and in the future; and,
  • how the law values your injuries.

If you cannot confidently answer each of the above questions, then you may be settling your claim for an unfairly low amount.

Determining the value of your case can be complicated, requiring a careful analysis of your medical records, employment records, the circumstances of your accident, and the law.  In many cases, you may need multiple expert opinions from doctors and other professionals to know the full extent of your injuries and losses.

The best way to know if ICBC has offered you a fair settlement is to contact a personal injury lawyer. Preszler Law BC offers free case evaluations by telephone, online or in person.

Q. Can I take ICBC to court?

A. Yes, if ICBC does not pay for your treatment, your income loss, or other benefits, then you can start a lawsuit asking for fair treatment under the law.

If ICBC has treated you unfairly, then you may also be able to sue them for “bad faith” or punitive damages.

It is best to consult a lawyer before starting a lawsuit against ICBC. The lawyer can explain your rights and may be able to settle your dispute out of court.

Q. How do I know if an insurance company is offering a fair settlement?

A. In order to know if you have been offered a fair settlement, you need to know:

  • Who caused your accident, legally speaking;
  • What your injuries are;
  • How long your injuries will last and how they will affect you long-term;
  • How much your injuries will affect your work and personal life;
  • How much income you will lose over your lifetime due to your injuries;
  • What treatment you need now and in the future; and,
  • How the law values your injuries.

If you cannot confidently answer each of the above questions, then you may be settling your claim for an unfairly low amount.

Determining the value of your case can be complicated, requiring a careful analysis of your medical records, employment records, the circumstances of your accident, and the law.  You may need multiple expert opinions from doctors and other professionals to know the full extent of your injuries and losses.

The best way to know if an insurance company has offered you a fair settlement is to contact a personal injury lawyer. Preszler Law BC offers free case evaluations by telephone, online or in person.

Q. How do you determine what my case is worth?

A. People who are injured by someone else’s wrongdoing are generally entitled to compensation. The purpose of compensation is to put the injured person back to the same position they were in before being injured.

In order to determine how much compensation someone is owed, personal injury lawyers consider the following questions:

  • What are your injuries?
  • How severe are your injuries?
  • How long will your injuries last? How they will affect you in the long-term?
  • How much do your injuries affect your work and personal life?
  • How much income will you lose over your entire lifetime due to your injuries?
  • Are you less competitive in the market place due to your injuries?
  • How much have your injuries affected your housekeeping chores?
  • What treatment will you need now and in the future?
  • What out-of-pocket expenses do you have related to your injuries?
  • How does the law value your injuries and losses?
  • Who is at fault for the accident?

People injured by someone else’s wrongdoing are usually entitled to damages for pain and suffering. Lawyers calculate pain and suffering damages by looking at what judges have awarded people with similar injuries. The more severe the injury is, the higher the award. The more the injuries have affected your life, the higher the award. The longer you experience symptoms, the higher the award. The maximum award in Canada for pain and suffering damages is in the range of $360,000.

People who are not able to do their household chores are able to recover compensation for their loss of housekeeping capacity over their lifetime, even if a family member has taken on the tasks for them. You are generally awarded fair market value for each hour of housekeeping that your injury prevents you from doing.

People who have lost income as a result of their injuries or will lose income as a result of their injuries are entitled to have it replaced. If your injuries make you less valuable as a worker (for example, you cannot do heavier tasks or work longer hours), then you are likely entitled to compensation for loss of income earning capacity. Loss of income awards should take into account all money that someone will lose as a result of their injuries over their entire working career.

Injured people are entitled to be compensated for the cost of the treatment or rehabilitation expenses they need for the rest of their lives. You may need physiotherapy, massage therapy or counseling in the future. You may need help cleaning your home or doing your yard chores. You may need re-training at work. You may have to spend money on painkillers or other medications. All of these amounts should be recoverable.

If you were partially at fault for your accident, then your damages will be accordingly reduced. For example, if you were 50% at fault for an accident, then your damages will be reduced by 50%.

Q. If my case does go to trial, how will a personal injury lawyer help me prepare?

A. It is rare for a case to go to trial. The vast majority of cases settle out of court.

Sometimes, in order to get you the compensation you deserve, we will recommend going to trial. We will only recommend going to trial when we believe we can win your case.

Trials are complicated procedures. They often involve court application on what evidence is and is not admissible. Even for evidence that is admissible, there are better and worse ways to present it to the court. Personal injury lawyers know proper court room procedure and how to persuasively present evidence in court; they handle the entire trial for you.

A trial is an opportunity to tell your story. The court will hear evidence on how your accident happened and how your injuries have affected your life. Your lawyer will spend a lot of time preparing you and other witnesses to give truthful, clear evidence in court. It is our job to make you feel comfortable with the process and remove any surprises.

Preszler Law BC’s lawyers prepare meticulously for trial. We appreciate that little details matter. We gather all of the available evidence about your injuries. We do careful, thorough legal research and witness interviews. We hire some of BC’s best medical experts to explain what injuries you’ve suffered, how they affect your work and personal life now and in the future, and what treatment you need.

Before trial, each party will have many opportunities to consider their case and make decisions on whether to settle out of court.

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