If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in BC, you have dealt with ICBC. Over the last 20 plus years of helping people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents, I have identified a number of mistakes people make in dealing with ICBC. These mistakes can really affect the outcome of your claim. If you have been in an accident, try to avoid these mistakes to ensure the best possible outcome:
1. When calling Dial A Claim after the accident make sure that all the information that you are providing is accurate. If you are calling on the day of the accident don’t say that you weren’t injured. Injuries often take a day or two to come up and if you have told ICBC that you were not injured it will be extremely difficult to get them to take responsibility for the injuries that ultimately show up;
2. Don’t give ICBC your only copy of witness information. Always keep a copy of the witnesses information for your self;
3. Make sure that if and when you meet with an adjuster that you are accurate about your pre accident health. If you have previously been injured but have now recovered make sure that you tell the adjuster about the previous injury. If you don’t disclose the prior injury because you have fully recovered, ICBC will take that as an indication that you are less than fully honest;
4. If english is not your first language, take a family member or friend with you to act as an interpreter, even if you can get by with english. That way you will ensure that there are no misunderstandings as a result of language barriers;
5. You are not required to sign a statement about the circumstances of the accident. On your first visit to see the adjuster they will take a detailed statement from you and then will put this into a written document and ask you to sign it. You are not required to sign it. Also, even if you are not signing it, review the written statement carefully and amend anything that is not 100% accurate;
6. You are not required to provide ICBC with blanket authorizations for release of your personal information. ICBC is entitled to access your medical information to some degree. They are not entitled to a blanket authorization. If you hire legal counsel they will review the records prior to providing them to ICBC to ensure that they are relevant. They will edit or black out any non relevant and personal entries. ICBC is only entitled to information regarding the nature and extent of your injuries, not the whole of your records;
7. If you are the victim of a hit and run accident, do everything possible to identify who the other motorist was and keep a record of everything that you do to determine their identity. Failure to take all reasonable efforts to identify the other motorist will result in you not being entitled to any compensation for your injuries;
8. Do not be emotional when dealing with the adjuster. Although it can often be stressful bringing emotion into your communications with the adjuster will alienate the adjuster and will result in the adjuster forming impressions of you and your case that will not be helpful;
9. Be careful in all of your communications with ICBC. Everytime that you speak to the adjuster or anyone else at ICBC, a note gets made in your file. During the course of your communications the adjuster will form impressions and will record those impressions in your file. Generally the less communication that you have with the adjuster the better.
10. Always be honest with ICBC. Being less than honest can have devastating consequences for your claim.
11. Don’t let ICBC decide how much your case is worth. The compensation that you are entitled to following a motor vehicle accident is the compensation that it takes to put you back in the position that you would have been in if you had not been injured. It is not an adjuster’s job to do the work necessary to find out exactly what that requires. ICBC will offer you an amount of money because they are interested in resolving your case as quickly and cheaply as possible, not because they have done the work necessary to find out what compensation truly is necessary to fully and fairly compensate you.
All of the above mistakes can be avoided by ensuring that you have obtained experienced legal counsel to represent you. ICBC claims are adversarial and in all but the most minor simple case you will be better served having legal counsel than trying to deal with ICBC on your own. There is a reason that ICBC is spending millions of dollars on advertisements trying to discourage you from seeking legal counsel and it is not because they have your best interests in mind.