This Article describes the process when making a personal injury claim, and dealing with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, called ICBC.
If you’re hurt in a motor vehicle accident in BC, you may be able to receive two types of compensation:
1. No-Fault Accident Benefits: Everyone in BC who owns a vehicle must buy basic insurance from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, or ICBC. This insurance pays money, called “accident benefits,” to people injured in a motor vehicle accident. Even if you caused the accident, ICBC will pay you these no-fault accident benefits, as long as you’ve met the conditions of this insurance. Generally, these benefits include temporary total disability benefits (i.e., wage loss to a maximum of $300 per week while you are disabled due to your injuries) and medical and rehabilitation benefits.
2. Damages: If the accident wasn’t your fault (or only partly your fault), you also have the right to “damages” for your pain and suffering, lost past and future wages, future care, out-of-pocket expenses and other losses. These damages are recoverable in a “tort” claim. These damages aim to to put an injured person, who didn’t cause the accident, in the same position they would have been in had the accident not happened (as far as money can do this).
The Proper Steps in Making Sure of Your Entitlements:
1.Hire a competent Personal Injury Lawyer that specializes in ICBC motor vehicle accidents that result in personal injury claims.
2. File A Claim Directly with ICBC by calling ICBC’s Dial-A-Claim at 604.520.8222 within the Lower Mainland or 1.800.910.4222 elsewhere in BC.
3. See a Physician, and keep properly documented records of your injuries. Take Photos if the injuries are visible.
Remember these important things:
You have to report it within 30 days after the accident. Some people prefer to see a lawyer before talking with ICBC. If you do that, your lawyer can report the claim to ICBC for you. Generally, you’ll be asked to provide a statement to ICBC about the accident and fill out an insurance claim application.
What about getting damages?
If someone else was fully or partly to blame for the accident – meaning you’re entitled to tort damages – ICBC will typically offer you money to settle or resolve your claim. With a personal injury lawyer, and proper medical documentation, your settlement will often go up by more than double of what ICBC will initially offer. Sometimes 10 times, or more depending on the circumstances. We are a NO FEE company UNLESS you recover compensation.
So having a personal injury lawyer, that specializes in ICBC personal injury claims, will help you receive the entitlement you so deserve.
We might not be able to help you in your physical recovery from your accident, but we can certainly make sure that you are properly monetarily compensated as much as money can do for you in your particular circumstance.
What if you disagree with ICBC?
If you or your lawyer can’t reach an agreement with ICBC, you may sue in court. ICBC has a “Fairness Process” that you can also use if you’re not satisfied.
There are three situations where you may have to sue in court
1. Refusal to pay accident benefits: If ICBC refuses to pay any accident benefits, or it pays less than you think is fair. If you decide to sue, you have to start your lawsuit within 2 years after the accident (or within 2 years from the date of the last no-fault benefits payment, if you received some benefits).
2. Decision that you’re at fault: ICBC may decide that you’re totally or partly at fault for the accident. To claim damages or compensation for your injuries in addition to no-fault accident benefits, you would have to sue the owner and driver of the other vehicle in the accident. This must usually be done within 2 years of the date of the accident, but in some cases, the deadline is much sooner.
3. Refusal to pay damages: ICBC may not want to pay as much damages as you think you should get for your pain and suffering, wage loss, business loss or other losses. This may happen even though ICBC decides that you were not at fault. In this case, you’d have to start a lawsuit within 2 years of the accident.
Where do you sue?
1. Small Claims Court: Sue in Small Claims Court if you are suing for $25,000 or less. You don’t need a lawyer in small claims court, but having one will certainly increase your chances of overturning ICBC’s original ruling.
2. Supreme Court: Sue in BC Supreme Court if you are seeking more than the $25,000 limit in Small Claims Court. You definitely should have a lawyer if you choose Supreme Court because the procedures are more complicated.
Can ICBC sue you?
Yes, ICBC can sue you in some cases. For example, if you drive while drunk and cause an accident that injures a person, that person may sue you. ICBC can pay the injured person and then demand that you pay it back. The various situations in which ICBC can collect that money from you are quite complex. So if you’re involved in such a situation, you should get legal advice.
You should consult a lawyer before you proceed with a personal injury claim. It’s critical that you know all your rights and are prepared. Insurance companies, however fair, are in a conflict of interest about what to do with your claim.
If you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident, you can claim accident benefits from ICBC. If the accident wasn’t your fault, you can also claim damages for pain and suffering and other losses. The ICBC adjuster can settle your claim if you agree. Because that agreement will be binding, you should see a lawyer before you agree to a settlement to find out if the offer is fair. If you can’t agree on the value of your claim, or who is responsible for the accident, a lawsuit and a trial may be necessary. There are strict time limits for when different lawsuits must be started, and if you miss the time limit, you lose your rights.
This article was re-written but highly based on the article from the Canadian Bar Association found here.