Following a car accident, it is likely that ICBC will quickly get in touch with you. In many cases, they will ask you to give a brief recorded statement about how what happened. Even though they might not tell you a statement is mandatory, it is often implied. Do you have to give a statement to the ICBC, and if so, should you?
You are not required to give a statement
First and foremost, you are required to report any accident to ICBC within 30 days. Failure to do so could cost you any chance at recovering benefits. However, reporting the accident and providing a detailed statement are two different things. You are not required to discuss the details of your case with the ICBC outside of the notice requirement.
That said, the ICBC will almost certainly ask you to make a statement. This could be as informal as a conversation over the phone or as formal as a written statement signed in front of an agent. In either case, these statements are outside of what is required.
Types of statements
These statements can come in three general types: informal discussions, recorded phone calls, and written statements. Informal discussions can occur any time you answer the phone when the insurance company calls. There can be dozens of these calls, often lasting no longer than a few minutes. Make no mistake, however: everything you say could be used against you.
A formal verbal statement is different. Instead of a brief discussion, the insurance representative will typically ask if you will make a complete statement. They will also request to record the statement. In this recorded statement, they will often take you through your entire claim from the accident to your medical treatment.
A written statement is the most formal option. This can occur after a verbal statement has been given in some cases. The insurance company will often ask you to write out what happened and sign it indicating it is true and accurate.
Is giving a statement worth it?
It is rarely, if ever, in your best interest to give a detailed statement. Remember: the ICBC cares primarily about their bottom line. While the insurance representatives might be friendly, their purpose is to help the ICBC avoid paying out on their claims. They will often ask loaded questions, hoping that you will make an admission that could hurt your case. They also commonly seek statements minimizing your medical condition, only to use that against you when you seek additional medical benefits in the future.
The risks associated with giving a statement to ICBC are clear. However, it is also important to note that giving the insurance company additional information does not help you in any way. There is no tangible benefit to providing the ICBC with additional information above and beyond notice that an accident occurred. With so much at stake and so little to gain, providing a statement is likely not in your best interest.
Discuss your options with a lawyer
The most important thing to consider throughout this process is that specialized legal knowledge is crucial. If you are not experienced in dealing with the ICBC, you might be unaware of how a statement could hurt your case. To protect your rights, it could benefit you to work closely with an experienced ICBC law firm. Not only could a lawyer guide you through the process, but they could also serve as your advocate. By letting your lawyer deal directly with the ICBC, you reduce the risk of unintentionally harming your claim.
Once an ICBC adjuster denies your claim, it is rare for them to reverse their decision. This makes it crucial to get it right the first time. By working with an ICBC lawyer, you stand a better chance of receiving a favourable coverage decision from them.
If you are ready to move forward with a claim, Preszler Law is here to help. Our team of dedicated lawyers understands the process. To learn more, schedule a free consultation right away.