Section 97 of the Insurance Vehicle Regulation under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act establishes that notice of the accident must be provided to ICBC within 30 days to file a claim for no-fault benefits or Part VII benefits.
Your first step should always be to seek medical care, even if you do not initially think that you were hurt. You will also need to report your accident to ICBC, but remember that this conversation will be recorded. Your initial report to ICBC will require you to provide the date, time, and location of the accident, your vehicle license plate number and registration, the names, driver’s license numbers, and vehicle details of all other parties involved in the accident, how the accident happened, injury details, witness information, and a police file number if police were notified.
When you contact Warnett Hallen, LLP, we can file your ICBC claim on your behalf. Within 30 days of your accident, ICBC will want you to meet in person with a claims adjuster to review the damage to your vehicle, make a recorded statement about your accident, and discuss your injuries.
You may be able to have your car assessed by an ICBC-certified repair shop and submit a signed accident statement and injury statements instead of meeting with the claims adjuster. ICBC will ask that you provide a blank authorization to collect information about you, but our lawyers can help manage the information you share when dealing with ICBC.
You will need to file a claim for Part VII benefits for basic medical expenses regardless of fault and a tort claim when another party was at least partially at fault. Both types of claims have specific notification and limitation deadlines, neither of which ICBC will inform you of. Failure to submit a claim on time can result in an inability to hold the negligent party legally liable.
You will have two years to decide whether to accept a proposed ICBC settlement. When a settlement cannot be achieved, you may need to file a lawsuit within the two-year window.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for an ICBC Claim
The fact that ICBC covers so much of the market in British Columbia means that they usually have an inherent conflict of interest in handling most claims since they inevitably cover both drivers involved. ICBC will base its settlement offers on sets of guidelines that are not designed to award maximum compensation but instead minimize ICBC’s losses.
An ICBC claims adjuster will conduct their own investigation into your accident, and you could be denied compensation and face increased insurance premiums when ICBC determines you were at fault. You can dispute the decision through a hearing with an independent arbiter or you can file a small claims or Supreme Court lawsuit.
Other options you can also try when you are dissatisfied with an ICBC decision include speaking to a manager or supervisor at ICBC who may be able to launch a complaint through the corporation’s Fair Practices Review. Some people may be able to request reviews by the Fairness Commissioner.
You can try handling your ICBC claim on your own, but ICBC is under no obligation to explain the law to you. This frequently works to the disadvantage of claimants who are unaware of important deadlines applicable to their cases.
You should hire a lawyer because they will be able to conduct an independent investigation that provides an unbiased evaluation of what truly caused your accident. The lawyer will know how to identify all liable parties and secure the evidence needed to prove their negligence.
A lawyer will also be aware of the important filing deadlines, and they will ensure that you do not miss any of them. Warnett Hallen LLP can also assist you with treatment costs by arranging an agreement with a treatment provider to defer costs or assisting in another way.
We 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 gauge the true value of your claim and then fight to help you obtain maximum compensation.
ICBC settlement amounts are based on a number of different factors. Some of the factors that could affect your proposed settlement may include:
- Severity of victim’s injuries
- Expected duration of victim’s injuries
- Victim’s occupation and impact on ability to return to work
- Victim’s role in mitigating damages
- Victim’s liability
- Victim’s age
- Victim’s pre-existing conditions
- Victim’s need for future care
Other important factors that could impact your settlement also include whether you have legal counsel. Claimants without a lawyer frequently receive settlements that are much less than those who hire one.
The point at which your ICBC claim is settled can also play an important role, as ICBC can be more inclined to settle when there is an increased risk of a lawsuit.
When a lawsuit is filed, a person could be awarded different kinds of damages that may include:
- General or non-pecuniary damages
- Psychological injury or nervous shock damages
- Future expenses and losses
- Past expenses and losses
- Loss of income and earning capacity
- Loss of housekeeping capacity
- Past cost of care claims
- Future care costs
- Loss of pension income
- Dependents’ claims under Family Law Act
- Aggravated and punitive damages
It is important to note that aggravated or punitive damages are relatively rare, as they are limited to cases in which a jury wants to punish a defendant for particularly malicious or reprehensive conduct.
Common Injuries in ICBC Claims
An ICBC claim could involve any one of a number of possible injuries. The severity of injuries can also vary, with some people facing shorter periods of recovery than others who may require entire lifetimes of care.
Some of the most common kinds of injuries involved in ICBC claims include:
- Herniated discs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ injuries
- Fractures (broken bones)
- Muscle strains
- Nerve damage
The passage of Bill 20 and Bill 22 in May 2018 made it law such that as of April 1, 2019, a limitation or cap of $5,500 has been placed on nonpecuniary damages (non-quantifiable damages) if ICBC deems an injury to be a “minor injury.” Bill 20 defined a minor injury as an injury that results in no permanent serious disfigurement and physical or mental impairments are resolved within 12 months of the accident.
Any dispute with ICBC about the severity of injuries will require a hearing before the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), which was introduced by the Ministry of Justice. The CRT also has a cap of $50,000 on total damages in ICBC claims.
If a claimant can successfully argue that their injury is not minor, then the $5,500 cap is no longer applicable, although the $50,000 cap on total damages remains in effect. The only way to collect compensation is to take the case to court, but the CRT would have to allow that to happen.
Lawyer Fees in ICBC Claims
Warnett Hallen LLP understands the financial stress and strain that individuals and families often feel in the aftermath of a severe injury accident. We believe that everyone is entitled to qualified legal assistance when dealing with ICBC.
That’s why our firm provides legal representation on a contingency fee basis so you will not have to worry about paying anything up front, and we won’t collect any fees until your ICBC or other insurance claim has been settled.
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.