Making a claim for compensation can be complex and confusing. The diagram below explains how this process works:
Here are some simple explanations of the process to help you understand it a bit better in its entirety:
- At the Accident
- Seeing Your Doctor
- Consulting a Lawyer
- Dealing with the ICBC
- Critical Timelines including ICBC
- Starting a Legal Action
- Examination for Discovery
- Trial and Judgment
We represent clients at every stage, from right after your accident when you need advice right through any trial or settlement negotiation. Contact us for a private consultation, here.
At the Accident
Experiencing an accident can be overwhelming and confusing. Being prepared can make all the difference. You will need to gather information about the other vehicles involved, the circumstances of the accident, and possible witnesses.
Keep a pen and paper in your vehicle with your insurance papers to help you keep a record of the accident
particulars. If you have a smartphone, document the accident scene. Include license plates, vehicles involved, witnesses names and phone numbers. This evidence is critical to supporting your case for proper compensation.
If you are injured, your health comes first. Stay put and ask for emergency assistance, including ambulance and/or fire as well as police. The police will gather information about the other driver or drivers and any witnesses.
Seeing Your Doctor
Some injuries are obvious and require medical attention immediately. Other injuries that affect your physical, psychological or emotional health are not as easily identified. You should follow up with your family doctor on a regular basis to ensure that all of your injuries are properly documented and treated. It is important to follow medical advice carefully to promote prompt recovery.
Some of your medical expenses may be covered by ICBC at the outset of your claim regardless of who is to blame for the accident. This area of the claims process can get quite technical. A lawyer familiar with the process can help you obtain immediate payment for many of the expenses associated with your injury.
Consulting a Lawyer
A lawyer can help you avoid some of the difficulties commonly experienced by people with personal injury claims. For example, a lawyer can communicate directly with your adjuster, coordinate the flow of medical information, and handle the extensive paperwork often associated with a personal injury claim. A lawyer can also ensure prompt payment of disability, medical or rehabilitation benefits to help ease your financial concerns.
Our personal injury lawyers welcome the opportunity to talk to you about your claim.
Dealing with the ICBC
You are required to report your accident to ICBC as soon as reasonably possible. Claims can be reported around the clock by calling DIAL A CLAIM:
- 1-604-520-8222 within the Lower Mainland; and
- 1-800-910-4222 from anywhere else in the province or outside B.C.
After you have reported your claim, you will be assigned an adjuster and a claim number. Keep this information handy as you will need it in the future.
In most cases, ICBC will require a statement from you giving details of the accident and your injuries, your employment, and relevant activities. Consult with a lawyer to obtain assistance in completing your statement.
You may also be asked to sign certain forms for the release of medical and employment information. If you have any questions or concerns about the documents you are being asked to sign, it is best to consult a lawyer before signing.
Finally, remember there are various limitation periods and deadlines which can be complex and confusing. Consulting a lawyer early on will ensure that appropriate action is taken before any limitation periods expire.
Critical Timelines including ICBC
There are critical statutory deadlines in place that can prevent you from obtaining compensation for your injuries. It is important that you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following an accident. Our personal injury lawyers will explain the relevant timelines as they apply and help you navigate the claim and settlement processes.
Starting a Legal Action
An action is a legal proceeding that can lead to a trial. Starting an action does not mean you have to go through a trial. In fact, most actions do not go as far as a trial.
Your action is started by preparing and filing court documents before the limitation period has expired. This is important because if the limitation period expires before your action has been started, then your claim may be gone forever. Your lawyer will prepare the proper court documents and will ensure that you comply with all time limits.
Examination for Discovery
This is a formal interview that allows each party to “discover” the other party’s case. Each side can ask questions—usually limited to the circumstances of the accident and the extent of the injuries—that the other party must answer under oath. The questions and answers are recorded word-for-word by a court reporter. This procedure enables each side to find out what information the opposing party has about the case and to assess credibility to determine who would be a convincing witness at trial.
If there is another driver involved in your accident, he or she may also be examined under oath by your lawyer. Your lawyer will ask all questions necessary to support your claim and to test the credibility of the other driver.
In claims involving serious injuries, both sides often retain witnesses with professional expertise in medical, engineering, vocational or other fields. Some expert witnesses can help to advance your claim by providing medical or technical analysis. Others can prepare financial reports about losses you may have suffered, such as lost wages, future income loss, lost pension benefits, future cost of medical treatments, etc.
It is to your advantage to have experts in the relevant fields advise you and provide opinions to make sure your losses are properly quantified. Your lawyer will advise you about the types of experts required and help you retain competent individuals in those fields.
Trial and Judgment
In the event that you do not consider the settlement offer from ICBC to be reasonable, you may proceed to a trial where a judge or jury will make a judgment on your claim. Very few claims go to trial. Trials are costly and can be risky. Whether or not you have a lawyer, you can decide to settle your matter at any time.
An alternative to trial is mediation. A mediator is an independent person whose role is to help both sides reach a settlement. Either you or ICBC can require the other parties to go through mediation, although there is no obligation to settle at the mediation.
No one can predict the outcome of a trial with certainty. There is always risk, but if your claim does go to trial, your lawyer will help you obtain the best possible result.
If you do not retain a lawyer, you will likely receive a settlement offer directly from ICBC and will be asked to sign a release form. If you are unsure whether the offer is reasonable, it is best to contact a lawyer for an opinion. If you elect to accept the offer and sign the release, your claim is concluded and you cannot ask for additional compensation even if your injuries get worse or new injuries are uncovered. There are very few exceptions, so if you are not sure what to do, a lawyer can help you decide the best course of action.
There are many different categories of compensation that may apply to your situation, and each claim for compensation is unique. The process of settlement can be complex. Contacting a lawyer will help ensure that you are compensated for all of your losses.
Be informed and be certain before you sign a release.
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