Handling a car accident is stressful no matter how you look at it, especially when injuries are involved. Try adding a personal injury claim on top of that. Dealing with ICBC after a car accident is a lengthy, often jarring process. The claim process involves interviews, filing forms, collecting documents, and more. On top of working with a potentially difficult adjuster, it may seem as though you’ll never get the compensation you’re entitled to. If you’re filing a claim with ICBC following an accident, keep this in mind.
Immediately after the accident
In the moments following an accident, your safety is the number one priority. If you’re able, exit the vehicle and distance yourself from the wreckage. Examine yourself for injuries. If you’re only dealing with cuts and scrapes, you might not need immediate medical assistance. If the injuries are more serious, call an ambulance. Keep in mind that some damages, like soft tissue injuries from whiplash, aren’t always visible. If you’re not seriously hurt, check on the other driver as well. Assist them if appropriate, and if they don’t appear to be in too much pain, proceed to exchange contact and insurance information.
At this time, you should gather information about what happened during the accident. Take a few notes about how the event plays out in your mind. See if there are any nearby witnesses that are willing to give a statement about what they saw. Document the plate number of the other driver’s car, including the province. If the driver is from outside of British Columbia, make sure you get the exact name of their insurance company. This is also a good time to take photographs of both vehicles as well as any visible injuries and the scene of the crime.
Hiring a lawyer
Depending on the severity of the accident and the scope of your claim, you may not need a lawyer to successfully receive damages. However, it’s highly recommended. Legal representation is incredibly helpful when it comes to wrangling an ICBC adjuster. Always remember that while ICBC’s adjusters work with you during the claims process, they’re not on your side. Their ultimate goal is to reduce the amounts of any settlements they award to save ICBC money.
If you’re concerned that ICBC is looking to settle early or for an unfairly low amount, contact specialized personal injury lawyers like the experts at Preszler Law BC. An experienced attorney knows how to navigate the ins and outs of filing a claim with ICBC and will advise you on whether a settlement is a fair deal or not. Otherwise, if you accept a settlement early, you’re waiving your right to pursuing further damages.
While it seems a bit predatory, ICBC has several tricks up its sleeve to get you to sign a reduced settlement. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is being unprepared for your first meeting with the adjuster. If you’re flustered or unsure of what you’re going to say, you’re more likely to misrepresent yourself. ICBC can and will use any faulty information against you during the claims process, so it’s best to have your lawyer advise you on how to handle a meeting with the adjuster.
Another common mistake is providing ICBC with a signed statement. Legally, your only obligation is to provide a report of the accident. The report is used to apply for Part 7 No Fault benefits. If an adjuster pushes you to sign a document or insists that it’s a necessary step, politely decline. Consult with your attorney on next steps before you consider meeting with an adjuster again, especially if it’s the same representative.
Patience is key
Dealing with ICBC is frequently a sluggish, frustrating process. Often, they’ll seek to delay claims and slow down your settlement to avoid disbursing the funds you deserve. Your best line of defense for navigating the claims process is to retain an experienced lawyer. It’s a sure way to increase the chances that you’ll receive compensation in a quick and orderly manner.