Who Can Claim Compensation for Personal Injuries in British Columbia?
Every person in British Columbia who has been injures as a result of a motor vehicle accident potentially has an ICBC personal injury claim. This applies to pedestrians and cyclists who are injured by automobiles, as well as drivers and passengers who have been injured.
Do I have to prove someone else at fault?
Yes. The law in British Columbia requires that the injured person prove fault on the part of the other motorist. For example, if a pedestrian is run down in a crosswalk then in all likelihood the party at fault is the driver of the automobile. Similarly, if a cyclist has been forced off the road by a car, then fault would lie with the driver of that car. In a single car accident, it is likely that fault will lie with the driver of the car. If passengers have been injured, their claim is against the insurance on that car. Most automobile accidents involve two car collisions. Usually, the driver of one of those cars is at fault. The driver and occupants of the other car then have a claim against the insurance on the car at fault. The passengers in the car at fault can also claim against the driver at fault.
What the injured person has to prove, is negligence on the part of the automobile driver. Even if the injured person is partly at fault, he or she can still successfully recover compensation from the other driver. In law, this concept is known as contributory negligence.
Are there time limits in which I must bring a claim for compensation?
Yes. And you should get prompt legal advice concerning time limits. In many cases persons who are seriously injured are prevented from proceeding with injury claims because they missed time limits. There is no advantage to putting off getting legal advice. Failure to move quickly can, however, prevent you from making a claim.
ICBC appoints an adjuster to deal with me – why do I need a lawyer?
If you have been injured as a result of some other motorist’s fault, you have a claim against that person’s insurance. In law, however, the claim is actually made against the person who caused your injuries. It is the job of the insurance adjuster to put a dollar value on the claim from ICBC’s point of view. Also, the adjuster has the responsibility of ensuring that you receive certain “no-fault benefits” on such things as medical-related expenses, surgical supplies, and household help. Know that the adjuster works for ICBC. It is your lawyer’s job to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries that the law says you are entitled to.
The MacIsaac Group injury lawyer’s job is to:
- Collect all of the evidence concerning the automobile accident;
- Obtain the necessary medical information setting out the type of injuries you have suffered from, the impact upon your life from these injuries, and
- To obtain all the evidence concerning your wage loss, both past and future.
Additionally, in many cases where there are serious injuries, your lawyer’s job includes obtaining for you compensation for the future medical care needs which you might require.
Finally, if your lawyer cannot settle your claim on your behalf with the Insurance Corporation or its lawyers, then it is the job of your lawyer to take your case to court so you can obtain in court the judgement you are entitled to according to law.
When ICBC makes you an offer to settle, and you do not have a lawyer, what you need to know is that ICBC has a higher number that they think they would have to pay out if you had a lawyer. This is even before your lawyer has the chance to educate them about why your claim is worth much more than they initially think it is. For more information see Worried About Legal Fees.
How long does an ICBC claim for personal injuries take?
The time required to settle your claim with ICBC will depend on the type of injuries you have suffered, the length of time it takes for you to recover from those injuries – if in fact you do obtain full recovery – and the impact of those injuries upon your life, both work and play. No claim should be settled until the medical personnel involved have provided your lawyer with a clear assessment of what the future holds with your injuries. In cases where the injuries are not serious, and you have made a quick recovery, your claim should be settled within six months or so of the accident date. However, if your injuries are more serious and if you are at risk of having permanent disability from those injuries, a good rule of thumb is 18 to 24 months or so from the date of the accident to the date of the settlement (or trial if that is required).
What legal action is involved in an ICBC claim for personal injuries?
There certainly are cases involving claims for compensation for personal injuries where your lawyer is able to settle your claim directly with the ICBC adjuster without the need to commence a lawsuit. In many other cases, however, your lawyer will find it necessary to file court papers and commence a lawsuit. This does not mean that your case will in fact end up being tried in a courtroom. Statistics tell us that of all personal injury insurance claims filed in British Columbia, only 10 percent actually go to trial.
In some cases it is necessary for your lawyer to start a lawsuit to protect your claim against time limitations.
The prosecution of the lawsuit is your lawyer’s responsibility. He or she has the required skill to ensure that your case is prepared in the proper legal manner for the possibility of a court case. It is his or her job to file the necessary court papers, and to obtain the evidence supporting your claim. This is what you are paying your injury lawyer for. If your case proceeds to trial, it is the job of your lawyer to obtain the witnesses, conduct the legal research, and to present your case in court.
What can I claim for?
An injured person claims compensation for the injuries he or she suffered and the losses which he or she has incurred as a result of those injuries. Generally, most ICBC personal injury claims involve compensation (money) for:
- The pain, suffering and loss of pleasure of life which were caused by the physical injuries;
- Your gross wage loss;
- Full reimbursement to you of all the monies you have had to pay out as a result of the injuries, and
- All your future losses – which may be your future wage losses or cost of additional medical care you are going to need because of your injuries.
Further, you are entitled to interest on some of the money which you will obtain in a settlement or judgement. Your MacIsaac Group injury lawyer has the knowledge necessary to obtain for you the full compensation you are entitled to under these “heads of damage”. For more on the MacIsaac Group Injury Lawyers click here.
What are these “no fault accident benefits” that I have heard about?
Regardless of fault in a motor vehicle accident, you are entitled to certain benefits if you have been injured. For more details on the “no fault accident benefits” that you may be entitled to, click here to read our How ICBC Works page.
How do I pay my lawyer, and how much do I pay my lawyer?
Many with an accident claim cannot afford to pay an injury lawyer a large retainer and an hourly fee. On most accident claims we will agree to work on a contingency fee basis where we only get paid if you get paid. When we take an accident claim or ICBC claim on a contingency fee basis our fee is a percentage of what we recover for you. One feature that distinguishes the MacIsaac Group from a lot of other firms is that we pay all of the disbursements (expenses) incidental to pursing personal injury claims. On many files this runs into the tens of thousands of dollars.
See our Worried About Legal Fees Page which explains why worrying about lawyer fees can end up costing you money you were entitled to claim.