If you’re involved in a motor-vehicle accident, regardless of whether you are walking, driving, or a passenger, you may be eligible to make an ICBC claim. This article gives you the information you need to make an ICBC claim and get a fair settlement.
What to Do Immediately After the Accident
Depending on the accident this may or may not be in your control, but since most accidents are minor, you should get the information of everyone involved in the accident.
Follow these tips for handling things directly after the accident
Notify the police and file a car accident report. Depending on the severity of the accident, police may not attend the scene. You will need a police report number when you make your ICBC claim.
Talk only to the police about the accident. It’s easy to start talking with the other people involved in the accident, but say as little as possible, don’t tell them what you think happened, and don’t admit fault, or say sorry. Speak to them only to get the following information:
Names, addresses, and phone numbers of everyone involved.
Get the Vehicle Identification Number of all vehicles involved, along with owner’s name, and license number. This information is on the insurance papers.
› Driver’s license numbers
of all drivers involved.
Write down all the facts - the location, time, and whatever details you can remember.
Seek medical attention. Symptoms and pain from tissue damage to the neck and shoulders can take a while to manifest and can be very disruptive and painful over the long term.
Talking to an ICBC Lawyer
As soon as possible after your accident, talk to an ICBC lawyer before making an ICBC claim. There are many ICBC lawyers in Vancouver that specialize in handling injury and accident claims. Many of them offer free advice and counseling and won’t charge unless you get a settlement, and then it’s usually a percentage.
There are several good reasons to speak with a lawyer before you speak to ICBC:
1. ICBC wants to keep claim amounts low.
ICBC represents everyone who was involved in the accident, so don’t expect them to have your best interests at heart.
2. ICBC lawyers are working for YOU.
They’ll advise you of your rights, and any possible options for compensation.
3. ICBC will ask lots of questions looking for reasons to deny you money.
An ICBC lawyer will advise you how to respond and make sure that you tell your side of the story accurately, so that you get the settlement you deserve.
4. Claims are complicated.
An ICBC lawyer will advise you on the process and tell you what to expect.
Making Your ICBC Claim
After you’ve spoken to an ICBC lawyer, it’s time to start your claim. You have to make your ICBC claim within 30 days of your accident. You should have all the information you collected after the accident, including drivers’ names, license numbers, vehicle identification numbers (VINs), as well as the police report number, and your summary of the facts.
Things to keep in mind when giving your statement:
Keep your answers short, simple, and to the point.
Don’t guess what happened; tell them only what you know. If you don’t know what happened say, “I don’t know.”
Don’t offer your opinion on any injuries. If you say you’re fine during the claim process, that can come back to haunt you later.
If you haven’t seen a doctor yet, tell them you’re going to see a doctor, and you’ll answer medical questions later.
Getting Your ICBC Settlement
Depending on what happened with your accident you may have two parts to your claim: damage to your car, and your injuries.
Damage to Your Vehicle
The process for dealing with the damage to your vehicle is broken into several steps.
1. Determining fault.
ICBC will determine who is at fault for the accident. This will determine whether or not you have to pay your deductible.
2. Assessing damage.
An ICBC estimator will decide whether it’s cheaper to repair your vehicle or replace it.
3. ICBC Decision.
ICBC will let you know whether they’re repairing your vehicle, or if it’s a total loss, and how much money they will give you.
If ICBC decides your vehicle is a total loss, then they’ll offer you money to replace your car. Don’t accept it right away. ICBC workers are trying to close claims as cheaply and quickly as possible, so it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get a fair rate for your car.
Once you have your offer, look around at similar vehicles and get a feeling for the value of your car.
Make a list of the options and mileage of your car.
Look at Craig’sList and Auto-Trader and find cars like yours. Collect these listings.
Speak with used car dealers, tell them what features your car has and find out how much they’d sell the car for.
Take 10% off the prices you find. ICBC considers this the profit margin, and assumes all listings are 10% higher than the actual value of your car.
Compare the values you have collected, subtracting the 10% and then adding sales tax. How does it compare to the amount ICBC offered you?
If ICBC is offering roughly the same amount or more, then accept the offer. If the listings you have found have higher prices, talk to your claim adjustor, and present your listings. They have the power to adjust your claim, and offer more money.
If you’re still unhappy with the offer, you can ask to speak to a manager, or hire a lawyer and go to arbitration. This can be very costly, and in a lot of cases it’s not worth the added expense.
Resolving Your Injury Claim
Injury claims can take a while to resolve. Injuries sustained in car accidents can have long lasting effects, especially in the case of nerve or muscle damage. If you’ve been injured, speak with an injury lawyer. Many will offer advice free of charge until it comes to actually settling your ICBC claim.
Be advised that you’ll be responsible for paying the full costs of any drugs, and part of your physiotherapy and registered massage therapy up front. ICBC may refund you the balance as part of your claim settlement.
Make sure you do the following:
See your doctor. If you have to go to a clinic, see the same doctor every time you go, and make sure they have experience with ICBC claims.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations to the letter. Not following your doctor’s medical advice is grounds for ICBC to deny your claim.
Keep all your receipts. Your doctor may prescribe you medication. Start a file and keep all your receipts to submit to ICBC when it’s time to close your claim.
Go to any referred specialists right away. ICBC has time limits on how long they will pay for specialists like physiotherapy and registered massage therapy.
Keep a diary. Keep track of everything your injuries affect. This will help you when it comes time to settle.
When talking to ICBC, keep to simple and short statements. Don’t guess at recovery times for your injuries.
Once you're feeling better, ICBC will make you an offer. If you’ve not spoken to a lawyer yet, call one. Some lawyers are willing to tell you quickly over the phone if your offer is fair, without charging you.
Try not to rush to a settlement. Injuries sustained in car accidents can have very long recovery times, and if you settle before you’re healthy, then you’ll have to pay the added expense yourself.