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If you've been in an accident, this is what we recommend
- Seek Immediate Treatment for Your Injuries
Even if your symptoms are very minor, you should go to the hospital and/your family doctor as soon as possible. Many serious injuries seem quite mild at first. Seek early treatment and tell your doctor about any and all symptoms, even if they seem unrelated or minor.
- Gather as Much Information as Possible Regarding the Accident Scene and the Vehicles and Driver(s) Involved
We also recommend that you get the names and contact information from any witnesses. Though the cause of the accident may be obvious to you, often witnesses are needed to back up your description of what happened. Many times a driver who admits liability immediately following the accident, will deny it or change his or her story when they report it to ICBC.
If the police attend, which is not a given, get a copy of the police report. If it is not available, try to get the police report number or the name of the police officer investigating the accident.
Take photographs of the accident scene, if possible. Photograph skid marks, debris and indicate the position of the vehicles. Try to do this from multiple angles. Even poor quality photos can help an accident scene reconstruction expert.
- See Your Doctor Regularly and Have Your Doctor Oversee Your Treatment
If you fail to go to the doctor early and regularly, you may have difficulty proving that the accident was the cause of any subsequent problems, or that you were injured at all. Your family doctor can oversee your treatment and refer you to any specialists when appropriate.
While Chiropractors, Physiotherapists and Massage Therapists can do a great deal to relieve your pain and help you recover, your family doctor should oversee your treatment. Medical opinions and conclusions provided by massage therapists, physiotherapists and chiropractors are given less weight by ICBC and the courts than that of doctors. It is our strong recommendation that you continue to see your family doctor regularly as well as any specialists he or she recommends.
If you do not have a Family Doctor and you are forced to seek treatment from Walk-In Clinics, try to use the same clinic each time and if possible , the same doctor. Many doctors work regular shifts at walk-in clinics.
- Don't Understate Your Injuries To Your Doctor
Many car accident victims do not discuss minor symptoms with their doctor, assuming they are unimportant. Discuss all your symptoms with your doctor. Don't exaggerate but don't minimize either.
- Take Photographs of Your Injuries or Have Someone Do it for You
Photographs of your injuries are helpful to your case. Take some soon after the accident and during recovery.
- Report the Accident to ICBC as Soon as Possible
All motor vehicle accidents that happen in BC must be reported to ICBC, even if ICBC is not the insurer for the vehicles involved. It is always important to report your collision to ICBC within the prescribed limits. You can report you collision by calling ICBC=s dialâ€‘aâ€‘claim (604â€‘520â€‘8222 in the Lower Mainland and 1â€‘800â€‘910â€‘4222 elsewhere in BC).
We recommend that you contact an experienced ICBC injury lawyer before providing a written statement to ICBC or meeting with a representative. Any mistake or omission in the information provided by you can be used later to undermine your credibilty. Act quickly, there are strict time limits regarding the reporting of injury claims.
- Understand That ICBC Is Not on Your Side
The friendly ICBC adjuster who meets with you works for ICBC, not you.
It is the job of insurance adjusters to minimize payouts on insurance claims. ICBC will either try to deny your claim, assign you some or all liability for the accident, and/or attempt to minimize the amount you are paid for your injuries. ICBC's only interest in your situation is to minimize the compensation they will have to pay out for your injuries. If your adjuster is friendly (and many of them are), the information you disclose or any documents you sign can and will be used against you later.
Always consult a lawyer before communicating directly with an ICBC adjuster, giving a statement or signing any papers.
- Don't Visit a Doctor at the Request of ICBC Without First Getting Legal Advice
ICBC has a list of doctors that they refer injured people to on a regular basis in order to get their opinion on prognosis. Not surprisingly, their medical opinions nearly always minimize a claimant's injuries and future prognosis. If you are referred to a doctor by ICBC, you should consult an experienced claims lawyer to find out your rights and what to expect from the appointment.
- Don't Miss a Limitation Date
There are many time limits and limitation dates involved in an ICBC claim. Missing one of them could invalidate your claim. An experienced ICBC personal injury lawyer can help you navigate these deadlines and the legal system.
- Don't Settle Too Soon
Not all ICBC disputes end up being settled in a courtroom: Roughly 95% are settled prior to trial. Keeping that in mind, don=t settle your claim too soon. Speaking very generally, it is our opinion you should not settle your claim until you have:
- Been painâ€‘free for at least 3â€‘6 months;
- Returned to all of your regular activities without any aggravation of your pain; and
- Your doctor or treating professionals pronounce you fully recovered or that you have recovered as much as you are likely to do so.
Remember that once you settle your claim, you cannot reopen it. Even if at a later date your symptoms worsen or you are left with a chronic condition as a result of the accident that was not apparent at the time of settlement, your claim is extinguished and can not be reopened. This is the case except under extremely limited circumstances.
In conclusion, we believe it is in your best interests to get advice from an experienced ICBC personal injury lawyer as early as possible in the claim process. At Balakshin Hargrave Law Corporation, we are happy to meet with you at no cost to discuss your ICBC claim and answer any of your questions. You are under no obligation to retain us and you will not be pressured in any way to sign with us.
Our initial consultations are free and our fees are not payable by you until you collect. We offer percentage fees. If you've been injured in an accident, get advice from someone who specializes in this area of law.
Call 604.859.1220 or contact Balakshin Hargrave Law Corporation.