Car Accident Benefits Protection
If you are injured from an automobile accident, you may qualify for Part 7 Accident Benefits from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) provided you are an insured BC resident and follow the appropriate steps. After having the accident, you will need to notify the police and ICBC of the automobile accident as soon as possible. ICBC will investigate the accident to determine what accident benefits are payable and to determine fault.
If you incurred injuries, it’s best to have a lawyer contact ICBC on your behalf as this affords you the most legal protection in all respects, including protecting your rights to the accident benefits you are eligible for. If you decide you want to contact ICBC yourself, ICBC Dial-A-Claim phone number is 604-520-8222 in Lower Mainland and 1-800-910-4222 in the rest of BC or outside of BC, and it is open 24/7.
Limiting ICBC Contact
Once you contact ICBC, the Dial-A-Claim representative may ask for details about the accident, such as where and when the accident happened, and whether you suffered any injuries and the nature of your injuries. It’s best to advise that you will have your lawyer provide this information instead.
Soon after, you can expect a call from the assigned insurance adjuster, who will want to confirm your information in order to mail you a claim package with forms for you to complete. It is recommended that you do not speak with the insurance adjuster beyond confirming your name, address, policy number and vehicle information. If the adjuster asks you to outline what happened in the accident, inform him or her that you would like to speak to a lawyer before communicating with them and will provide the lawyer’s contact information when you have it ready. There is nothing wrong with proceeding this way, which you are entitled to do and it cannot be held against you.
ICBC will also seek to set up an appointment for you to come in and meet with an ICBC adjuster at an ICBC claims centre to provide a signed statement. You are not required to attend an ICBC claims centre. If you have not hired a lawyer yet, you may want to ask for an appointment that is far enough in advance that will give you time to obtain legal advice; you or your lawyer can later cancel the appointment. You can also take the position that you want to see your doctor before you meet the adjuster so that you can be sure you are providing them with full and accurate information about your injuries.
If you go ahead and provide a statement without the benefit of legal advice, you could jeopardize your claim. If your description of the accident leaves anything open to interpretation or you mistakenly leave out important information or do not report all your injuries fully and accurately, ICBC may use an interpretation that reduces your claim. ICBC may use any information provided to determine liability, to argue that you are in breach of your insurance policy or that you did not sustain certain injuries or are fabricating or exaggerating them. Your own personal injury accident lawyer knows what information is necessary to provide ICBC and can best protect you.
Qualifying for Accident Benefits
To qualify for Part 7 Accident Benefits, you or your lawyer must file a written statement with ICBC (you can send it by registered mail to ensure you have proof of receipt). The statement must be filed within 30 days from the date of the accident about what occurred and the injuries sustained. You or your lawyer must also file a completed Insurance Claim Application (Part 7 Benefit Claim) to ICBC within 90 days of the accident. You can begin medical treatment right away and keep your receipts for reimbursement from ICBC if the medical professional cannot wait for payment directly from ICBC. It will take some time for the statement and benefit claim form to be reviewed and approved by ICBC adjuster.
Before you can obtain access to certain accident benefits, such as income replacement benefits, you are required to apply for coverage under other insurance benefits available to you, such as a private disability plan and other health benefits where you have existing policies, including from your employer or under the federal employment insurance program. ICBC will subtract amounts covered under other benefit plans from the accident benefits they pay to you. However, these recovery benefits are usually the smallest part of your total compensation if the other driver was at-fault. Once ICBC has approved your application and you have exhausted other avenues required you should be able to begin receiving the applicable benefit payments.
These “no-fault” benefits will apply regardless of who was at-fault for the accident. The benefits include income replacement if you cannot work due to the injuries sustained, medical expense reimbursement, rehabilitation expenses, among other coverage, such as attendant care, compensation for caregivers who do not earn wages, and, in some cases, reimbursement for the cost of housekeeping fees paid to others.
The Role of Your Lawyer
As personal injury lawyers who deal regularly with ICBC, we can represent you with ICBC, including notifying them about the accident for you. We can prepare and file the documentation needed within the time limits required. Only the information that is necessary is provided to ICBC, such as facts and medical evidence that helps your accident claim. It’s common to obtain lawyer assistance in dealing with ICBC on injuries such as whiplash, broken bones, brain or spinal damage, wrongful death and others. Our office will handle any disbursements (expenses) for you and collect most or all of them from ICBC when you obtain your settlement.
Your lawyer at Kenneth Cristall Law Corporation can also prepare and file your legal case if needed, depending on how soon ICBC makes a reasonable settlement offer. When you need an experienced car accident lawyer to deal with ICBC, call us right away at 604-654-2250. We have offices in Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley and Surrey, and we serve the surrounding areas. We'll help you on your road to recovery.