Is it Too Late to File a Car Accident Claim in Vancouver, BC?
There are time limits to file claims for car accidents in British Columbia. Knowing these deadlines is important because failing to file by the deadline can limit the compensation you may be able to collect for your injuries.
Although the best rule of thumb is to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a crash, sometimes that’s not possible. That’s especially true in the case of injuries that don’t show up right away. These are also called delayed injuries or delayed-onset injuries.
Don’t let the clock run out on your car accident claim. Schedule a free consultation by calling or filling out or online contact form now.
Car Accident Limitation Period in Vancouver
Car accident victims in British Columbia must file claims within a timeframe known as the limitation period. According to the province’s Limitation Act, injured people have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. In cases of delayed injury, the clock starts running on the date the person discovered (or reasonably should have known) that their injuries were accident-related.
When claims are not filed on time, injured individuals lose their right to sue. There are certain exceptions to this rule. But no one who is injured in a crash should count on a suspension of the limitation period to protect his or her claim. There are still ways that an at-fault party can try to force the case to proceed. Rather than take any risks, contact an experienced car accident lawyer for advice.
Time Limits to File With ICBC
If you are injured in a car accident, you must file a claim with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Filing these claims can provide no-fault (Part VII) benefits that can help you recover a portion of your lost wages and rehabilitation expenses. You must file a Part VII claim with ICBC within 90 days of the car accident. Although you have the full 90 days to file your claim, it is advisable not to wait too long. For the best chance of success with your claim, you should report the crash within 24 to 48 hours.
There are instances in which ICBC may refuse a claim for Part VII benefits or provide limited payments. In these cases, you can file a lawsuit against the company within two years of the date of the crash or the date of the last payment, whichever is later.
Delayed Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents are jarring and frightening events. In response to threats, the body naturally releases adrenaline to help you focus and cope with the situation. Although this is a protective instinct, adrenaline can also reduce a person’s awareness of pain. In other words, you may be injured but not know it for hours, days, or even weeks after the crash. For this reason, you need to get checked by a doctor even if you do not feel hurt.
Delayed injuries can be very serious. What seems like a minor headache could be signs of a concussion or more severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Bruising could indicate internal bleeding long before the injury becomes life-threatening.
Pain in the shoulders and neck is also very common after a car accident. While these could be just minor aches that go away in time, they could also be signs of whiplash or spinal cord trauma. Back pain could be temporary or it could mean more long-term injuries, such as a herniated disc or fractured vertebrae.
Keep in mind that crashes that occur at relatively low speeds can still cause injury. Even if your car sustained little damage, your body could be much worse off.
Another delayed injury that some people experience after a crash is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Flashbacks, nightmares, social anxiety, hyperarousal, and overreactions to normal stimuli are all possible symptoms of PTSD. A person might not realize that they are suffering from the disorder until months after the collision, as it progresses slowly over time.
Proving That Delayed Injuries Were Crash-Related
Proving that you suffered a delayed-onset injury is similar to proving that you sustained injuries immediately after your crash. Evidence is key.
Medical documents, including a diagnosis from a doctor, will form the foundation of your car accident claim. Doctors can document whether the injuries are consistent with a car accident. This will be especially important if ICBC tries to deny payment by claiming that your injuries aren’t crash-related because they emerged later.
Your own activities after the crash could also help your case (or hurt it). For example, if you claim that your back was hurt but the injury did not present symptoms right away, it will harm your case if you post pictures on social media of you playing basketball. If your doctor orders rest, follow those instructions exactly.
Keep a pain journal after the crash. This will help document when the injuries first appeared and refresh your memory if a significant amount of time has passed since the wreck.
Finally, testimony from your loved ones can help prove your injuries were delayed after an accident. Family members and friends can support your claim that the pain started later and how it has impacted your life.
Even with solid evidence, you are more likely to experience challenges from ICBC if you suffered a delayed-onset injury. Talking with a Vancouver car accident lawyer with experience handling complex ICBC disputes can help maximize your chances for a full and fair recovery.
Can I Still File a Claim After the Deadline Has Passed?
While exceptions to the limitations period exist for minors and those with delayed injuries, they are relatively rare for British Columbia car accidents. Even if the limitations period is extended, or tolled, complications can arise that a lawyer can help with.
How an Experienced Lawyer at Warnett Hallen LLP Can Help
Filing a Vancouver car accident claim can be fraught with obstacles, especially if you are running up against the limitations period or have a delayed injury. A lawyer at Warnett Hallen LLP can get started on your case right away. Our priority is helping you get maximum compensation from ICBC and the at-fault driver.
Ready to get started now? Call or contact us today to arrange your free consultation.