Make Your ICBC Claim, Know Your Rights and Protect Your Interests
When you are injured in a car accident you are entitled to claim compensation for your injuries, lost wages (past and future) and out of pocket expenses. There are two kinds of claims which you can make. The first is a claim against the driver who caused the accident. This is known as a "tort" claim. The second is a claim for medical and disability benefits through your own insurance policy with ICBC. This is known as an accident benefit or "no fault" claim.
After an accident ICBC will appoint an adjuster to handle both your "tort" and "no fault" claims.
Talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. He or she will fully explain your rights and make sure that they are respected. A personal injury lawyer will insure your interests are protected, he works for you, not for ICBC.
In handling your "tort" claim the adjuster will first decide who was at fault for the accident. This is a decision with serious consequences for you. If he or she decides that you were at fault, or partly at fault, you will not be able to recover all the compensation which you would otherwise be entitled to. Your insurance premiums may go up. You might also be responsible for the damage caused to the other driver. You will have no input into this decision, nor will your interests be considered.
It is important to speak to a personal injury lawyer before meeting with ICBC to discuss your accident. A personal injury lawyer will investigate your accident, interview witnesses and obtain police records. Do not count on the adjuster to do this for you. It is important to conduct these investigations as soon as possible after an accident. If a witness moves away or forgets what he saw then crucial evidence may be lost. A personal injury lawyer will ensure that your interests are protected, he works for you, not for ICBC.
At some stage of your claim the adjuster will attempt to negotiate a settlement of your "tort" claim. Be careful! The adjuster will negotiate with you, not for you. It is vitally important to consult a personal injury lawyer at this stage of your claim. A personal injury lawyer will gather your medical records, and requisition reports from your doctor and other medical specialist if necessary. This is done in order to ensure that the nature and extent of your pain and disability are clearly understood by ICBC. A personal injury lawyer will also obtain letters and employment records from your place of work or your financial records in order to prove your claim for lost wages or business loss caused by your injuries. The adjuster is not obliged to do any of this for you. The adjusters mandate is to settle injury claims for as little as possible.
The adjuster will also administer your "no fault" claim at the same time as the "tort" claim. You are entitled to "no fault" benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. These benefits cover some of your medical expenses and lost wages. They are included in the coverage you pay for when you purchase your ICBC insurance. You should not assume that the adjuster will automatically give you the full range of benefits to which you are entitled. There are deadlines for claiming "no fault" benefits so you should speak to a lawyer within 30 days of your accident.
Remember, speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. He will fully explain your rights and make sure that they are respected.
You can find general answers to some of the frequently asked questions about personal injury claims on our Personal Injury Q&A page. However, every case is different. That's why it's best to talk to a lawyer about your case. We make it easy to do that by providing a free initial consultation.