What to Do After a Car Accident in Vancouver, BC
Car accidents are traumatic events that can suddenly and drastically change your life. You may be left dealing with unplanned difficulties like physical and emotional pain, sky-high medical expenses, and lost income from missed time at work. It can feel intimidating to face all of these challenges at once.
Even though nothing can undo the effects of your accident, there are ways to determine the best steps to take to protect your health and rights to compensation following your crash.
The car accident lawyers at Warnett Hallen LLP have compiled a list of answers to some common questions we receive about car accidents. Continue reading or contact us for a free case review to learn more about what to do after a car accident in Vancouver.
I Just Got Into a Car Accident in Vancouver. What Should I Do?
It’s common to feel disoriented and overwhelmed after a car accident. Even though dealing with the aftermath of a wreck is stressful, it’s important to remain calm and focus on what you can do in the following days, weeks, and months to make your life easier.
The actions you take after a Vancouver car accident can have a significant impact on your health, your legal rights, and your future ability to recover compensation for your losses. You can protect yourself by taking the following steps after a vehicle collision:
- Document everything: Write down everything you remember about the events leading up to the accident and how the accident occurred while it’s still fresh in your memory. Ask occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash for their contact details, and be sure to exchange insurance information with other drivers.
- Talk to witnesses: If any eyewitnesses were present when the crash occurred, ask them if they are willing to provide statements about what they saw. Request their contact information in case you need to follow up with them later.
- Seek prompt medical attention: Car accidents often cause invisible injuries, such as whiplash and concussions, so seek medical attention no matter what. This will create a medical record of your condition and give you the best chance at a full and speedy recovery.
- Maintain thorough records: Keep track of all medical bills, lost income, repair estimates, and other incidental expenses you incur as a result of the accident. This will make it easier to prove how much compensation you need to cover your accident-related losses during the claims process later on.
- Keep a pain journal: Consider using a pain journal to record the degree of physical pain you suffer each day as a result of your accident-related injuries. Note other daily limitations you face, such as the inability to care for yourself or participate in the activities you used to enjoy.
- Contact a car accident lawyer: Policyholders must notify the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) of their accidents promptly. If you can, talk to a lawyer before talking to the insurance company. An injury lawyer can notify ICBC and explore all possible avenues for compensation for you. Warnett Hallen LLP offers free initial consultations, so you have nothing to lose from reaching out to us for a professional opinion.
- Avoid discussing the accident: Generally speaking, you should avoid discussing the details of your accident with anyone but your lawyer since anything you say could be used to harm your claim. It’s also a good idea to avoid posting on social media while your claim is pending for the same reason.
How Do I File a Claim for Compensation?
All vehicle owners in British Columbia must carry basic auto insurance coverage from ICBC. That means that any claims for compensation after a car accident must go through ICBC first.
The first step of filing a claim involves reporting the accident to ICBC. To do this, you can either go online or call their Dial-A-Claim line at either 604-520-8222, if you are in the Lower Mainland, or 800-910-4222 elsewhere in British Columbia. Keep in mind that you’ll need to make your report by phone if the accident:
- Involved a hit-and-run driver
- Did not happen in British Columbia
- Resulted in broken glass or windshield damage
- Involved reports from witnesses
Again, a car accident lawyer can handle this entire process for you. Turning your case over to a lawyer can help you focus on recovering from your injuries rather than the hassle of dealing with ICBC representatives.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive?
The types of compensation you could recover from an ICBC claim depend on several factors, including who was at fault for the accident, the nature of any injuries you suffered, and the impact those injuries have had on your daily life and ability to work.
Generally speaking, compensation from an ICBC claim is meant to cover any financial expenses or other losses you incur as a result of the crash, including:
- Repair or replacement costs for damaged vehicles or other personal property
- Medical treatment expenses and other hospital fees
- Car rentals and other transportation expenses
- Costs of in-home care and home accessibility modifications
- Past and present losses in income from missed time at work
- Lost future earning potential, if you suffer a long-term disability
- Pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life
Who Decides Fault in a BC Car Accident Claim?
If you were involved in an accident that was your fault, you will need to rely on your own no-fault insurance benefits when you make a claim. However, if another driver was at fault, you may be able to file a claim against their policy. This is why determining fault is a crucial component of any B.C. car accident claim.
When you file a claim, ICBC insurance adjusters are responsible for determining who was to blame and how much compensation is available to you. To determine fault in auto accidents, ICBC follows detailed guidelines outlined in the Motor Vehicle Act, which involves the following important steps:
- Collecting statements from everyone involved in the accident, including any witnesses.
- Reviewing any police reports generated after the accident.
- Visiting the accident scene to assess the area and any hazards present.
- Consulting with mechanics or estimators to learn more about any vehicle damage that occurred.
Should I Accept the First Settlement Offer?
No. The first settlement offer you receive from ICBC will likely be a lowball offer that does not account for all of your needs and expenses after a car accident. It’s important to remember that even though ICBC is a public auto insurance provider, they are also a for-profit corporation with a bottom line to consider, so you can’t always count on them to advocate for your best interests.
ICBC tries to stay profitable by keeping their expenses down, which sometimes means limiting the scope of any investigations they conduct after an accident. In many cases, the only information an ICBC adjuster has for a given claim comes from police accident reports and any paperwork you file, which means that they may not have enough to accurately value your claim.
Also keep in mind that you may require long-term treatment for your injuries, so it can be difficult to quantify how much compensation you need while you are still recovering. Working with a lawyer can help identify whether ICBC is underestimating your claim and provide evidence demonstrating the true extent of your losses.
Should I Get a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Not everyone needs a lawyer after a Vancouver car accident. If no one was injured and the accident caused only minor property damage, you may be able to resolve your claim through ICBC alone. However, if any of the following apply to your situation, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice as soon as possible:
- You sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident.
- You were forced to miss work because of your accident-related injuries.
- It’s not clear who was at fault for the accident.
- Multiple vehicles or other parties were involved in the accident.
- The accident occurred in a school, construction, or work zone.
- You were involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
- You believe the police accident report does not accurately reflect what happened.
- You feel uncertain about your legal rights or how to file a claim.
- Your claim is minimized or denied by ICBC.
Contact a Vancouver Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents can easily derail your life. With the help of an experienced car accident lawyer, you’ll have the best chance at obtaining the compensation you need for the recovery you deserve. Call or contact the car accident lawyers in Vancouver, BC at Warnett Hallen LLP for a free consultation and immediate legal help.