by Lexi McVaughn
For all that you probably think it’ll never happen to you, car accidents in British Columbia have been steadily increasing. Despite improved safety features in cars and tighter driver control, according to the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) there are almost 1,000 accidents involving motor vehicles every single day in BC.
What If It Happens To you?
So, what do you do if you are involved in a car accident? Obviously, you need to try to get the details of the other driver if your accident involves someone else. The next thing is to engage a lawyer, even if you think that it is a minor matter easily sorted by the insurance company. The insurance company is ultimately going to be focused on looking after their bottom line, engaging a lawyer means that you have someone who is looking after your interests.
Insurance In Vancouver
In British Columbia (as across Canada), motor vehicle insurance is compulsory. However, your standard insurance through ICBC only covers a limited amount. Your standard premium will include cover for up to $200,000 third-party liability insurance and up to $200,000 for hit-and-run coverage. However, you are able to get more coverage, or additional coverage through a different insurance company.
With the system in place for insurance claims related to motor vehicle damages or related personal injury in British Columbia, the person who has been deemed to be not-at-fault is allowed to take legal action to try and recover damages that may include loss of income and any out-of-pocket expenses. It is because of this system that it is a good idea to engage a lawyer and refer to a site like bc.timlouislaw.com to find out the ins and outs of the legal system within Vancouver.
Because of this system no matter who is at fault you will be covered for any injury you have received as a result of the accident, this can include your medical care, any rehabilitation required and potentially income replacement if you are unable to work for a period while you recover. The basic ICBC plan will cover you and your passengers, even if you’re at fault. This could include hospital care, dental work, any medications and things like chiropractic treatment or physiotherapy. However, the ICBC insurance only covers up to $300,000.
Processing A Claim
If you’ve been involved in an accident, when you speak to your Personal Injury Lawyer, they will go through a standard process to ensure that they know all the facts and are able to represent you with expertise.
Most good lawyers will want to ensure that they have all the facts of the situation. This will likely involve getting a detailed statement of events from you, but may also involve talking to any passengers in your vehicle, other witnesses, or even consulting with experts. Your lawyer may recommend negotiation with ICBC for a more favorable settlement of your claim, or negotiation with the other party involved in your accident, or both.
Initiating Court Proceedings
Once your lawyer has a good understanding of the situation, they will be able to prepare and file documentation with the Court. This is an ICBC Claims lawsuit proceeding. Sometimes applications may also need to be filed to get the Court to force the Defendant to provide documentation or other evidence.
Sometimes the claim may be against the other driver, however if the claim is against ICBC even though they are your insurer they will no longer be on your side. As the defendant in the case the lawyers for the ICBC will being trying to keep the settlement as low as possible. If you want a fair settlement engaging a lawyer to represent your interests is a good idea – although you can represent yourself if you feel confident in your ability to stand in front of a judge and feel that you have enough knowledge of the applicable laws. Generally, it is recommended to have a legal professional represent you, particularly in personal injury cases, as they are a stressful undertaking.
The next step is where the Defendant provides your lawyer with all the documentation they have gathered in relation to the case. This may include their own investigations, medical reports, accident reports, quotes from mechanics or panel beaters, or statements from witnesses or passengers. Your lawyer will also provide their lawyer with all the relevant documentation that they have gathered on your behalf.
After this process your lawyer will be able to give you a good indication of what they expect the outcome will be, and if they feel that you are likely to receive a financial settlement your lawyer will be able to estimate how much you should expect to receive at this stage.
Settlement or Trial?
Your lawyer may propose a settlement instead of going to trial. If both you and the Defendant agree to the proposed settlement, then the claim will not go to trial.
However, if no agreement can be reached then the case will proceed to trial, with any witnesses being given dates they will need to be at court prepared to answer any questions from either your lawyer or the Defendants lawyer.
If your case does go to trial your lawyer will speak and act on your behalf, as well as prepare any orders for the judge.
The final step is for your lawyer to complete the ICBC claim by paying out any money due. However, if the Defendant refuses to make payment or starts an appeal your lawyer may to undertake further action, but you can discuss this with them at the time. This is also a possibility you can discuss at the initial engagement interview.
But It Was My Fault
If an investigation has concluded that the motor vehicle accident was your fault, whether caused by your actions or your inaction, then you may find yourself in the position of being the Defendant. Before you agree to any form of settlement or make any statement for the Plaintiffs lawyer, engage a lawyer that specializes in personal injury and ICBC cases.
About the Author
Lexi McVaughn is a London-based business consultant and journalist. She covers news, startups, entrepreneurship, legal, finance and all-things related to businesses from all around the world.