ICBC Injury Lawyer Vancouver
Most motorists rely on auto insurance payments for financial support after they’ve been injured in a car accident. In British Columbia, those claims are handled through the crown corporation ICBC.
Every licensed driver in British Columbia must have basic insurance coverage through ICBC. While private insurers compete to provide many kinds of optional coverage, all drivers are required to purchase ICBC’s Basic Autoplan and follow the rules for reporting a car accident. Failure to do so could result in denied claims for compensation.
But the road to a fair settlement with ICBC can be fraught with potential pitfalls. Contacting an experienced ICBC lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident can preserve your rights to compensation.
The ICBC attorneys at Warnett Hallen LLP, work exclusively on behalf of injury victims. If you or a loved one was hurt in a car accident in Vancouver or anywhere in B.C., call or contact us today for a free consultation.
What to Know About ICBC
The most important thing to remember about ICBC is that it is an insurance company. Its primary concern is not necessarily what’s in your best interest. Instead, ICBC’s sole commitment is to its own bottom line. This usually means that it wants to settle cases for the lowest possible amount and will frequently go to great lengths to accomplish this goal.
Because the stakes are so high, it’s important to talk to an ICBC attorney before starting the claims process. Although an attorney is not required, having a skilled lawyer who is familiar with the tactics that ICBC uses to make lowball settlement offers may improve your chances of getting full and fair compensation.
Notifying ICBC of Your Car Accident
You have 30 days to report your car accident to ICBC to file a claim for Part VII (no-fault) benefits. It’s a good idea to do it within 24 hours if possible. However, there are several important things you need to know before notifying the insurance company:
- Stick to the facts. Make your report basic, only telling ICBC when and where the crash occurred and the contact information, insurance information and license plate numbers of everyone involved. Provide the names of any witnesses if possible.
- Don’t speculate about who is to blame. You should never say who you think is at fault for the accident, even if you think you were responsible. Insurance adjusters will be listening for any statements suggesting an admission of guilt. Anything you say can and will be used against you.
- There’s no need to mention injuries. You are not required to report any injuries when you first notify ICBC. Some car accident injuries can have a delayed onset and may not develop for weeks after the crash. But if you tell ICBC you weren’t hurt and report injuries later, an adjuster could argue that you made them up or are exaggerating.
- Do not provide a recorded or written statement. An ICBC adjuster will likely want to meet with you and request a formal statement about the accident. You are not obligated to do this as a policyholder.
Working with ICBC can be tricky, and you need to proceed with caution at every step. Our attorneys can file your claim on your behalf and help in any other dealings with ICBC. Having a lawyer by your side also puts pressure on ICBC to settle fairly because they know there is an increased risk of a lawsuit.
Putting a Value on Your ICBC Claim
It’s surprising how quickly the expenses from a car accident can add up. Even a simple fender-bender can cost thousands of dollars to repair. When someone is hurt or killed, the accident-related expenses and losses are even higher.
ICBC adjusters are counting on the fact that accident victims don’t know the true value of their injuries. That’s why they jump at the chance to make settlements as soon as possible. Many times, the ultimate prognosis for a victim — particularly one who is catastrophically injured — can’t be determined for months after the wreck. But if accident victims agree to an early settlement, they could unknowingly end up with much less compensation than they are entitled to.
A knowledgeable ICBC lawyer can help place a full and fair dollar value on your ICBC claim. This will be calculated by analyzing factors such as:
- Severity of the injuries
- Expected duration of the injuries
- Occupation and the impact on the ability to work
- Your role in mitigating damages (what you did or could have done to minimize the injury)
- Your liability
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Need for future care
The attorneys at Warnett Hallen LLP, know how to negotiate settlements with ICBC and have years of experience dealing with these types of claims. Our firm will be able to accurately measure the true value of your claim and fight to help you obtain maximum compensation.
Proving Fault in a Vancouver Car Accident
You can file an ICBC claim for Part VII benefits for basic medical expenses and wage replacement stemming from an accident, regardless of fault. That means that you will receive some compensation even if you are solely responsible for the wreck.
If someone else was fully or partially at fault for the car accident, it’s possible to file a tort claim against them to recover compensation for losses that you suffered due to their negligence. This compensation can include:
- General or non-pecuniary damages
- Psychological injury or nervous shock damages
- Future expenses and losses
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of household support
- Past, current and future care costs
- Loss of pension
- Pain and suffering
- Aggravated or punitive damages (in rare cases)
A car accident attorney from Warnett Hallen LLP, will conduct a thorough investigation into your crash to prove that another party caused the accident and should be held liable. Our legal team works with medical experts, accident reconstruction specialists and other professionals to build strong claims that are difficult for ICBC to dispute.
Understanding the Deadlines for ICBC Claims
Accident victims must meet strict deadlines to file claims with ICBC or risk being barred from compensation forever. That’s why it’s so important to contact our lawyers as soon as possible after your crash. We are familiar with the deadlines and can ensure that your claims are filed accurately and on time.
The time limits vary significantly depending on the type of claim that you will be filing. They are:
- Part VII claims: You have 30 days to notify ICBC for no-fault benefits.
- ICBC lawsuits: Claimants have 2 years to file a lawsuit in a British Columbia court.
- Hit-and-run claims: You have 6 months to file a hit-and-run claim with ICBC. You must also notify the police and make an extensive attempt to identify the party that hit you. That could include posting signs looking for witnesses or publishing an ad in the newspaper.
- Government claims: Any claims against a British Columbia city or government employee (acting in official capacity at the time of the accident) must be filed in writing within 2 months of the crash.
If you or a loved one has been injured, it can be difficult to keep up with filing requirements when you’re trying to recuperate and get your life back on track. Let Warnett Hallen LLP, deal with the deadlines so that you can put your energy into healing.
What to Do After a Crash in Vancouver
There are key steps that you can take to protect your rights to compensation after an accident. These include:
- Collecting all relevant information from the other drivers. You will need the names of all drivers in the wreck, along with their driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers and insurance information. Never depart from the accident scene without obtaining this information (assuming that you are not too injured and don’t need emergency medical assistance).
- Identify any witnesses to the car accident. This could include other motorists who stop to help, occupants of the vehicles involved or bystanders who saw what happened. Get their names, addresses and phone numbers.
- Notify the police. British Columbia law requires drivers to report an accident within 24 to 48 hours after the crash if the property damage is expected to exceed $1,000. They must be notified immediately if someone is seriously injured or killed. Although the police are not required to respond to every crash, calling them creates a paper trail that can be useful when our lawyers build your ICBC claim.
- Take photos or videos. Many settlements can be helped by steps you take at the accident scene. In the age of smartphones, it’s easy for most people to snap photos or take videos of the scene. Take pictures from multiple angles, looking for details such as skid marks, road obstructions or anything else that you believe could be useful evidence.
- Seek medical attention. Always see a doctor after being in a car accident. It’s important to be assessed for invisible injuries, such as soft tissue damage or even things as serious as internal bleeding. Not only could an examination save your life, but it also shows ICBC that you took every step possible to minimize your chances of further harm.
- Keep a journal of your injuries: Write down everything you remember about the crash as soon as possible. Memories about the accident can fade over time. It’s important to document that information while it is still fresh in your mind. Do not share this information with anyone except your car accident attorney. Take pictures during different stages of the healing process as well.
Don’t worry if the severity of your injuries prevented you from doing all of these things after your accident. While they can be very helpful to your lawyer while preparing your case, it is not a deal-breaker if you could not gather the information. Our legal team has the knowledge and resources to collect the evidence needed to support your case. The most important thing is —and should always be — your health.
Biggest Mistakes That Could Jeopardize Your ICBC Claim
The time after a car accident can be uncertain and overwhelming. Dealing with ICBC is inevitable, but there are ways to avoid getting caught in traps that limit your compensation.
Here are some common mistakes that could complicate your ICBC claim:
- Writing or posting about the accident on social media. Even if you delete the comments or pictures later, insurance companies may have already secured screen shots of posts with damaging information that could be used against you.
- Failing to get prompt medical care. While many accidents result in minor aches and pains that go away after a few days, other seemingly benign symptoms can be signs of a more complicated medical condition. If you don’t get a checkup, ICBC will seize upon that in an attempt to reduce your settlement.
- Giving ICBC a recorded statement. Remember that adjusters are trained to save ICBC money. They will most likely be representing the other driver(s) in your case, too. Providing a recorded statement without consulting a lawyer could result in you inadvertently making damaging comments.
- Not following doctor’s orders. Do everything the doctor says. Don’t miss physiotherapy appointments or stop taking medications early. ICBC can root these details out to show that you did not take your injuries seriously.
- Not telling your lawyer everything about the accident and your injuries. Attorneys and clients have a confidential relationship. You need to be honest about what happened on the day of the accident and if you have any pre-existing conditions that could have impacted your injuries. Dishonest claims will be exposed later and can lead to you recovering nothing for your injuries.
Lawyer Fees in ICBC Claims
Attorneys Manjot Hallen and Paul Warnett understand the financial stress that victims and families often feel in the aftermath of a severe injury accident. We believe that everyone is entitled to qualify legal assistance when dealing with ICBC.
That’s why our firm provides legal representation on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t have to worry about any upfront costs. We won’t collect any fees until your ICBC or other insurance claim is resolved.
The fee percentages at Warnett Hallen LLP, are in compliance with the rules of the Law Society of British Columbia. You will be fully informed of all applicable fees when you sign a retainer or agreement with us.
Talk to a Vancouver ICBC Lawyer Today
If you’ve been in a car accident in the greater Vancouver area and are preparing to file an ICBC claim, let the lawyers at Warnett Hallen LLP, give you the best chance of recovering maximum compensation.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.