Car accidents occur every day in British Columbia. Many result in little more than minor property damage that is easily fixed by a repair shop. Some accident claims are more complex, however, as they involve potentially life-threatening bodily injuries to drivers or passengers. Many more fall in-between these two extremes.
One thing that is common to most B.C. motor vehicle accidents, however, is the role of the Insurance Company of British Columbia. ICBC is the crown corporation that provides basic insurance to all vehicles registered in British Columbia. By law, drivers are required to notify ICBC of any accident that occurs involving an insured vehicle. But it is critical to understand exactly what this reporting obligation entails.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you do not have to deal with ICBC on your own. You always have the right to contact and work with a qualified Vancouver ICBC lawyer. Having a lawyer when dealing with ICBC is a good idea for several reasons, which will be explained in more detail below. The lawyers at Preszler Law Firm can provide you with specific advice following your motor vehicle accident that can help you in successfully pursuing an ICBC claim.
You do need to promptly notify ICBC anytime you are in a car accident, if only to preserve a potential claim for benefits. As a general rule, you should notify them within 24 hours. Notice is typically made by contacting ICBC’s Dial-a-Claim number (604-520-8222 in the Lower Mainland, otherwise 1-800-910-4222) or filling out an online form. ICBC accepts claims 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
At this stage of the process, you only need to provide basic information about the accident. This includes most of the information you should have gathered at the accident scene: the time and location of the incident, the licence plate numbers for all vehicles involved, driver’s licence information, and witness information. Although ICBC may ask you more detailed questions about what happened–i.e., who was at-fault–you do not need to get into this during the initial notification. You also do not need to provide any details on your injuries.
Once you contact ICBC, the most important thing to understand is that anything you say can and will be used against you. ICBC is not a court. It does not have to advise you of your rights to speak with a lawyer. Nor is there any Charter privileges against self-incrimination. ICBC lawyers can be clever in using or twisting your statements against you in ways that could hurt your claim.
ICBC adjusters are often eager to quickly settle or deny a claim. To that end, they may ask to meet with you personally. At said meeting, they may present you with a written statement to sign. Legally, you are not required to sign any such statement. And in many cases it goes against your interests to do so. As long as you made a timely notification of the accident–and followed up by filing an accident benefit claim form–the adjuster cannot compel you to sign any written statements.
You may be asking, What’s the big deal? Many of us often sign forms without even reading them, dismissing the contents as routine bureaucratic gibberish. The flaw in such thinking is that ICBC adjusters are not always there to make your life easier. Part of their job is to minimize ICBC’s potential exposure. At the end of the day, Crown corporation or not, ICBC is an insurance company, and they only make money by paying out as little as possible to policyholders.
Following an accident, even a relatively minor one, you are in a vulnerable position. You may be suffering physical or mental trauma. And if your car was seriously damaged, you are probably so concerned with getting your vehicle fixed that you are prepared to tell the ICBC adjuster whatever they want to hear just so they’ll pay your claim.
Once again, this is why it is a good idea to contact an ICBC lawyer before speaking with an adjuster. ICBC cannot deny or reduce your claim just because you decide to hire a lawyer. And having a lawyer deal with ICBC on your behalf will help level the playing field for you.
In order to recover compensation in the case of a hit and run you must take all reasonable steps to identity the person who hit you, which generally includes:
The underlying concern for requiring extra steps in hit and run claims is to prevent fraudulent claims from people not actually involved in accidents. Unfortunately, the additional steps also have the effect of preventing deserving people from receiving fair compensation. The onus is on you to take all reasonable steps otherwise your claim could be completely barred.
Few people know about the onerous steps you must take to preserve your right to make an ICBC claim after a hit and run accident. This is because ICBC will not (and does not legally need to) tell you what steps to take after a hit and run accident, meaning many well-intentioned people who report accidents to ICBC are barred from ever making a claim.
People injured in hit and run accidents have access to $200,000 in insurance policy limits. Any amount owed over and above the initial $200,000 policy is paid out the injured party’s underinsured motorist protection, if any.
An experienced ICBC lawyer can also assist you in properly valuing your potential claim. This is especially important when it comes to dealing with medical costs and injuries that go beyond simple repairs to your car. An ICBC adjuster is trained to offer a quick settlement that is potentially worth less than your actual damages. The adjuster is counting on the fact that you do not realize the full measure of your own injuries.
Indeed, there are many cases where B.C. accident victims never realize the full value of their claim because they do not even bother to seek proper medical attention following an accident. Some people may wait days, even weeks, before going to a clinic or their regular doctor. Such delays send a clear message to ICBC: You were not seriously injured, so we don’t have to worry about paying for your medical expenses.
Unfortunately, there are many accident injuries that are not immediately obvious. If you suffered a traumatic brain injury (concussion) or a neck injury (whiplash), for instance, it may take a few days for symptoms to fully manifest. And even if you seek treatment once symptoms do appear, ICBC can argue that your injuries are unrelated to the accident because you waited and did not seek immediate medical attention.
When all is said and done, even a “simple” car accident can cost you thousands of dollars. But you are not in the best position to know this a day or two after the accident when you report the incident to ICBC. An adjuster will be quick to settle your claim–assuming they do not try to blame you for the accident–but in many cases, you may be able to recover significantly more damages.
Hiring a qualified ICBC lawyer means working with someone who understands how to properly value a B.C. accident claim. At Preszler Law Firm, we understand that an accident is not always as simple as it first appears. Documenting the causes of the accident, as well as the full measure of a victim’s injuries, can require a significant investment of time and resources. Some cases require the services of outside experts to properly explain any contested issues to a judge. And even for more straightforward cases, having a lawyer to help you fully investigate the underlying causes of an accident–something ICBC often fails to do itself–can help ensure you are not railroaded by the process.
If you were not at fault for the accident, it is essential that you`re able to prove the other driver caused the accident in order to succeed with a third-party liability claim.
A Vancouver car accident lawyer from Preszler Law will work to compile the evidence that establishes the other driver’s liability. In many cases, this requires establishing that the other driver violated the Motor Vehicle Act.
Part of getting the compensation you need after a car accident is establishing the medical bills and related damages that you sustained. This largely corresponds to the severity of your injuries.
Some common injuries in ICBC accidents include:
Depending on the type of claim you file with ICBC, there are certain time limits you must be aware of and comply with. For Part 7 “no-fault” benefits you must provide a written proof of claim to ICBC within 30 days. If you were injured in an accident caused by an unidentified motor vehicle on a B.C. public highway, you must notify ICBC and the police immediately and have 6 months to file a claim with ICBC’s hit and run fund.
There are separate deadlines for potential lawsuits arising from another driver’s negligence. Normally this deadline is two years from the date of the accident. However, if the claim is against a B.C. municipality–or their employees acting in an official capacity–you need to provide written notice of the accident to the city or town within 2 months.
Deadlines can be just that: non-negotiable dates by which you must take action. Once a deadline expires, your claim or lawsuit could not be heard regardless of the merits. This is yet another reason hiring an ICBC lawyer at the start of the process is helpful. A qualified lawyer will keep an eye on the calendar for you, so that you will not miss an important filing deadline and doom your case or claim even before it starts.
As with any insurance company, ICBC requires basic information about a car accident. Most of this information should be gathered by you at the scene of the accident, assuming you do not require emergency medical attention. The most basic information you will need from the other drivers involved include their licence plate number, driver’s licence number, and their own ICBC insurance information. You will also need to provide this information to the other drivers.
The first thing to keep in mind at this stage is not to lie. Never provide false information to ICBC or the other parties involved in the accident. That is the quickest way to turn the ICBC process against you. Along these same lines, always verify the information the other drivers provide you. Some people think they can escape liability by providing a phony name or contact information. That is why you should ask to see the license and ICBC insurance information from each driver involved, to ensure they are providing you with accurate information. You should also always write down or take a picture of the other drivers’ license plate number.
Before you contact or speak with ICBC about your claim, we strongly encourage you to speak with one of our Vancouver ICBC accident lawyers. It is important to know your rights before signing any documents or statements or giving ICBC access to your private information. Making a mistake could harm your chances of succeeding with a lawsuit. The lawyers of Preszler Law will handle all ICBC reporting steps for you to ensure that you are properly protected.
There are some additional steps you can take at the accident scene that may prove helpful to your insurance claim:
Most people injured in motor vehicle accidents are entitled to ICBC benefits (often called “Part 7 Benefits”) for lost income and treatment expenses, even if the accident was their fault. Treatments such as physiotherapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, counseling, occupational therapy and attendant care are expensive. Obtaining Part 7 benefits can make a real difference in your life by ensuring you are able to afford the treatment you need to manage or recover from your injuries. If you do not know what ICBC benefits are available to you, call Preszler Law for a free consultation. The lawyers of Preszler Law are experienced in seeking out all ICBC benefits available to you.
People injured in car accidents are often entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, lost income, medical and rehabilitation treatment, housekeeping costs, and out-of-pocket expenses. Call Preszler Law today for a free case evaluation.
Preszler Law is dedicated to maximizing ICBC settlements to ensure that our clients get the justice they deserve. Preszler Law is adept at gathering all of the necessary medical evidence needed to ensure that our clients know the full extent of their injuries. We hire some of the best doctors in BC to write reports for our clients, setting out the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment recommendations.
If you have been in a car accident, the last thing you probably want to deal with is ICBC adjusters and lawyers. That is perfectly understandable. But the reality is that once you have sustained personal or property damage, time is of the essence. There are filing deadlines that must be met, and ICBC will pressure you to resolve your claim as quickly as possible, irrespective of the merits.
Hiring a Vancouver ICBC lawyer may seem like an unnecessary burden and expense. Yet there is no risk to you. Preszler Law Firm represents ICBC claimants on a contingency basis. This means that you owe us nothing until we settle your claim with ICBC or win in court. We never demand upfront payments or retainer fees. And our practice is 100% dedicated to accident victims like you–we never represent ICBC or any private insurance company.
So before dealing with an ICBC adjuster or supervisor, call us first at 1-800-JUSTICE®. Remember, you have the right to speak to a lawyer before giving any formal statement to ICBC. Your claim cannot be denied for exercising that right. Contact us today if you have been in an accident and need advice before speaking with ICBC.
Preszler Law services all of British Columbia with consultation offices across the province. We pride ourselves in ensuring that our firm mirrors the communities we serve. As a result, we are pleased to offer legal services in multiple languages, including:
If you need to speak to a Vancouver ICBC Claims lawyer regarding your ICBC Claim, call 1-844-373-8202 today! The initial consultation is free. You don’t pay unless WE WIN!