When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, there are several steps that you must take to preserve your rights and ensure that compensation is available to you.
At the scene of the accident the first priority is to deal with any serious injuries. Call 911 if there are serious injuries and an ambulance, fire department crew and police will be dispatched to the scene of the accident.
Ensure that you obtain all necessary information at the scene of the accident. If you have the capability to do so and you or someone that is with you is physically able, take photos of the scene of the accident. Obtain the contact information of all witnesses, the other driver and their license plate number. The police typically will not attend the scene of the accident unless there are serious injuries involved so the responsibility for getting this information will rest with you.
If you are in the unfortunate situation of being involved in an accident where the other motorists flees the scene without exchanging information with you, it is important that you understand that unless you have taken all reasonable steps to identify the other motorist you will NOT be entitled to compensation for your injuries. It is absolutely essential that you do all that you can to identify the other involved car. Do what you can to identify the license plate number, either in full or in part, as well as the make and model of the car and any identifying features of the driver. Talk to witnesses at the scene and see what information they are able to provide. Subsequent to the accident post signs in an attempt to get information from potential witnesses and post an ad on Craigslist. Keep a record of everything that you do to identify the other motorist and keep copies of all ads that you post. Make sure that you file a Hit and Run report with the police department.
You must report the accident to ICBC through DIAL-A-CLAIM. The number to call is 604-520-8222 if you live in the lower mainland. For other places in BC call 1-800-910-4222. You can also report the accident on line at www.icbc.com. This is a 24 hour number. When you call this number, a representative from ICBC will ask you a variety of questions including how the accident happened, whether or not you were injured and the names and contact information of any witnesses. ICBC may also book an appointment for you to attend at a claims centre and meet with an adjuster and have the damage to your car assessed. You can call a lawyer before calling DIAL-A-CLAIM and before meeting with an adjuster. If you retain a lawyer prior to the meeting with the adjuster the lawyer will cancel the meeting with the adjuster and instead provide the information that is required directly to the adjuster. If you also have insurance coverage from a private insurance company report the accident to them as well.
When you are injured in a motor vehicle accident it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. If you have urgent injuries following an accident, you will be taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. After you have been discharged from the hospital be sure to follow up regularly with your doctor and to follow any advice for treatment that is given to you. Under ICBC’s legislation they should be paying for any necessary medical treatment. Unfortunately, what typically happens is that ICBC will make arbitrary decisions about what treatment they will or will not cover. Regardless of whether ICBC will agree to pay for treatment it is important for your recovery to get whatever treatment has been recommended to you by your doctor.
It is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer prior to meeting with a representative of ICBC. The adjuster from the very first meeting with you will be focused on decreasing the potential financial exposure to ICBC. The adjuster will form impressions of you and of your case from that first meeting and those impressions will inform the way in which ICBC deals with your case. You have an obligation to cooperate in ICBC’s investigation of the accident but this can be done through a lawyer, without personally meeting with the adjuster.