Regardless of who is at fault in a car accident, you may still be entitled to benefits for medical expenses and lost wages when you file a claim with ICBC through your Basic Autoplan’s Accident Benefits provision. In fact, many people call these “no-fault” benefits.
With that said, a determination of fault can still play an important role in your case and directly impact how much you can recover for your losses. For this reason, it is always important to get help from an experienced ICBC claims lawyer after you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident.
What Is ‘Fault’ in a Car Accident Case?
Typically, fault is synonymous with negligence, or the failure to exercise a reasonable amount of care. Violating the law is almost always negligent (unless extreme circumstances, in a rare case, justify the violation). However, negligence does not just mean violating the law.
For example, driving with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .05 percent or above is against the law. It is also negligent. On the other hand, driving with a BAC of .03 percent is legal. However, it may still be considered negligent if a driver’s alcohol consumption contributes to a careless or reckless maneuver that, in turn, causes a crash.
According to CBC News, 190 lives have been saved since new drinking and driving laws went into effect in 2010 in British Columbia. Yet, recent statistics show that an average of 54 drinking and driving-related deaths still occur each year in the province.
Other examples of fault in a car accident include speeding, driving while distracted (particularly when using a smartphone), making an illegal lane change and driving aggressively.
Where Fault Matters in ICBC Claims
As stated above, a motorist who is involved in a car accident in Vancouver or elsewhere in British Columbia may be able to recover benefits for medical expenses and lost wages even when he or she is at fault for the crash.
However, if you are at fault, your Basic Autoplan insurance premiums will likely increase unless you have a long history of otherwise being accident-free.
On the other hand, if you were not at fault for the accident, the type of ICBC claims that you can file – and the types and amount of compensation that you can demand – can be significantly higher than what you can recover in an Accident Benefits claim.
If another driver was at fault, you can file a claim against that driver and seek a recovery through his or her third-party liability coverage. Any driver who licenses and insures a motor vehicle in British Columbia must carry at least $200,000 in such coverage.
In some cases, drivers may have purchased additional third-party liability coverage, which you can seek a recovery from if your medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost wages and other damages exceed $200,000.
However, if the at-fault driver in your crash carried only the minimum $200,000 amount, and your losses exceed that limit, you may be able to turn to your own Uninsured Motorist Protection, or UMP.
Fault is important with a UMP claim as well. You must establish that the other driver was at fault and that you were not at fault in the crash. If you can establish your right to UMP, you can receive coverage of up to $1 million per person who was injured in the accident.
Using Fault in ICBC Claims
As you can see above, if you can prove the fault of the other driver, you can use it to your advantage. In order to file an ICBC claim, you will need to follow certain steps that include:
- Reporting the accident online or on the phone
- Telling an ICBC adjuster what happened (the adjuster is the one who will conduct an ICBC fault assessment and issue an official ICBC fault decision)
- Getting an estimate of damage of your vehicle and getting the treatment you need
- Getting your vehicle fixed
- Paying a deductible (if applicable).
Failing to present the fault of the other driver when discussing your accident with the insurance adjuster or failing to describe the accident and its causation in full could greatly impair your ability to recover compensation.
A lawyer can play a significant role in helping you to prove and present fault to ICBC. Not only can a lawyer gather evidence and aid you in building a strong case, but a lawyer can also guide you through the process of working with ICBC.
Get Help from Our Vancouver ICBC Claims Lawyers
Dealing with an ICBC adjuster is not always a pleasant experience. Proving fault can also be a difficult task.
When you are involved in an accident that you did not cause, you have a right to pursue the compensation you deserve. At Klein Lawyers LLP, we have more than 20 years’ worth of experience helping car accident victims file claims with ICBC. We also have the resources necessary to conduct a thorough investigation and help you to seek a maximum ICBC settlement amount.
We know how confusing the ICBC claims process can be. We also recognize that, immediately after a crash, you may be shaken up and unsure of what to do next. Our goal is to help you. Contact us today to start the process as soon as possible.
For more information about this topic:
Guide to ICBC Settlements in Vancouver & throughout British Columbia