Vancouver ICBC Claims Lawyer
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ICBC Claims

The ICBC Claims

i. First Steps: Reporting an ICBC Claim

If you are involved in an accident that injured someone or damaged property, you have a legal duty to notify ICBC. Even if you are not the owner or driver, you must promptly notify ICBC to preserve your claim to ICBC benefits. There are three steps that you must take:

  1. Notify ICBC of the Accident: call dial-a-claim at 604-520-8222 or 1-800-910-4222. (Ideally within 24 hours of the accident)
  2. Give a statement describing the Accident. (Within 30 days of the accident)
  3. Submit an application for benefits to ICBC (CL22). (Within 90 days of the accident)

Anything you say to ICBC can be used to limit or deny your claim. We recommend that you speak to a lawyer prior to providing a statement to ICBC. The lawyers at BC Personal Injury Lawyers are able to properly draft your statement to best preserve your ICBC claim.

ii. Part 7 “No-fault” Benefits

Part 7 benefits, also known as “no-fault benefits”, are available to individuals involved in a motor vehicle accident regardless of who is liable for the accident. Part 7 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act of BC provide benefits to anyone injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident in BC, or a BC resident injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident in the USA or Canada. These benefits may be available either from ICBC or from another insurer to a party involved in the collision, and include:

  • Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits: Chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, physiotherapy, travel to and from medical appointments, the costs of medications and other rehabilitation expenses. The full extent of fees may or may not be covered.
  • Wage Loss Benefits: You may be entitled up to $1200 per month in wage loss benefits if you become disabled from employment as a result of a motor vehicle accident.
  • Homemaker Benefits: If you are a homemaker who has suffered injuries, you may be entitled up to $145 per week to compensate you during your period of disability.
  • Death Benefits: These include certain funeral expenses and survivor benefits. Payment of funeral expenses up to a maximum of $2500 will be covered as long as the death was a result of the motor vehicle accident.

Call BC Personal Injury Lawyers before you apply for no-fault benefits. We can answer ensure your claim is protected from the beginning.

iii. Coverage Issues

If you breach a term of your ICBC policy, ICBC can deny your benefits. This may also be true if you qualify under someone else’s policy and they breach that policy. ICBC can deny your benefits on the basis of a number of other factors, including:

  • Giving a false statement
  • Alcohol/impaired operation of a vehicle
  • Improper use
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Principal operator breach

If ICBC has advised that you may be in breach or has found you in breach of your policy, it is imperative that you contact a lawyer to review your case. BC Personal Injury Lawyers has extensive experience successfully defending ICBC breach issues.

iv. Fault Determination

In every motor vehicle accident, ICBC will make a determination as to who is at fault. ICBC collects evidence from you, the other driver, the police and witnesses to determine which driver(s) is to be held responsible. ICBC will take into account a number of factors when assessing fault:

Police: If police attend the scene of an accident, officers will issue tickets and/or write a report. The report or ticket may be used to decide fault, although they are not final.

Witnesses also play a key role in fault determination. ICBC will rely on witnesses who may have not seen the entire accident, or may have a flawed recollection of the accident. Even where there are no witnesses, your statement may be different from the statement of the other driver.

Contributory Negligence: Sometimes ICBC will determine that you are partially at fault for the accident. Even if you did do something to contribute to the accident, you still have a claim if the other driver contributed to the accident as well. You might have a claim against another entity, such as the municipality, if some element of the road conditions or design contributed to the accident.

Contact BC Personal Injury Lawyers if you have been found at fault for an accident, or have any questions or concerns regarding fault determination.

v. Trial Awards

While many personal injury cases settle out of court, a small percentage do proceed to trial. Generally, there are three categories of damages available to personal injury claimants.

General damages refer to the compensation an injured party receives for sustaining intangible injuries such as pain and suffering, disability, inconvenience, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of expectation of life.  In 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada limited the amount of money recoverable for pain and suffering at $100,000, with the upper limit usually only available for the most catastrophic injuries. This amount was indexed to inflation so that today, the amount is approximately $330,000.

Special damages refer to the compensation an injured party receives for incurring financial costs as a result of the injury or accident. Special damages refer to past and future financial costs and can be backed up by invoices, bills of sale and expert evidence. Special damages include compensation for past and future income loss, loss of competitive advantage in the marketplace, compensation for future medical and rehabilitation services, housekeeping services, and out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident.

Punitive damages are also awarded to personal injury claimants, although this is less frequent. When a claim is made to an insurance company, the insurance company has the right to investigate that claim by looking into the accident and its surrounding circumstances. The insurance company must conduct itself fairly and honestly. When an insurance company breaches this duty and acts in bad faith, a court may award punitive damages to the injured party. Punitive damages are only awarded when there has been highly reprehensible misconduct.

vi. Low Velocity Impact (LVI) Policy

ICBC can deny benefits if you have been injured in a minor accident. ICBC has attempted to limit compensation paid to claimants with a policy/program called the Low Velocity Impact (“LVI”) Program. The LVI Program takes certain factors into account, such as the extent of damage to the vehicles involved (generally less than $2000) and may deem an accident as a LVI accident. Claimants will receive a letter from ICBC explaining that the minimal nature of the impact of the accident did not result in a compensable injury.

There are two ways that one can be removed from the LVI program:

  1. A pre-existing injury made you more susceptive or vulnerable to injury despite the low impact collision.
  2. You have an objective sign of injury from the accident, such as a broken bone.

It is important to remember that the LVI program is an ICBC policy – it is not the law. Courts have recognized that minor damage to vehicles in an accident is not a determinative indicator of whether injury exists or not. If ICBC continues to maintain that you were not injured, you should speak to a lawyer.

Contact BC Personal Injury Lawyers if you have been referred to the LVI program.

vii. Out of Province Drivers

If you have been in an accident with an out-of-province vehicle, you may be unsure as to what options are available to you. Every province has its own rules for automobile insurance, and provinces cannot regulate insurers outside of their borders. Generally, out-of-province insurers will agree to be bound by BC rules if the out-of-province vehicle causes the accident.

If you were injured in an accident caused by an out-of-province vehicle, it is important that you obtain as much information as possible, such as:

  • the licence plate number and province of the vehicle
  • the name and current address of the driver
  • the name of the insurer and policy number

viii. Applying for Non-ICBC Benefits

Many people do not realize that ICBC benefits are secondary to any private or government benefits. This means that you must exhaust those benefits before ICBC is required to pay. The most common types of these benefits are:

  • Private insurance
  • EI Sickness benefits
  • CPP disability

Private Insurance
If you or a family member have private insurance that covers medical expenses or loss of income, you should notify the insurer promptly, even if you do not intend to submit a claim. If you fail to notify them of the accident within that notice period, they may deny coverage for any future medical or wage loss expenses.

Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits
Federal Employment Insurance offers up to 15 weeks of employment insurance benefits if you are unable to work due to illness or injury. You need to submit a record of employment for each paid position you held in the 12 months prior to the accident, and a medical disability certificate drafted by a doctor. It is important to apply promptly, as you will lose benefits if you wait more than a few weeks, and even once you apply, it can take 4-6 weeks to process your claim.

CPP Disability
Canada Pension Plan disability benefits may be available if you have paid CPP premiums for the “minimum qualifying period”. You meet this threshold if you paid sufficient premiums for 4 of the last 6 calendar years, (or 3 of the last 6 if you have paid for 25 years). If you have been disabled within the last 6 years, then you must have paid CPP premiums for each month since you recovered from your prior disability. To qualify you must provide a doctor’s note specifying that you are disabled from working.

Worksafe/WCB Benefits?
If you were working at the time of the accident, you must elect whether to pursue an ICBC claim or a WCB claim. We generally recommend choosing the ICBC claim, but one downside is that you may not receive compensation for medical expenses or income loss until your claim is resolved.

Understanding the different kinds of insurance coverage available to you can be an overwhelming task. Feel free to call BC Personal Injury Lawyers for guidance and advice on how to apply for private or government benefits.