If you suffered personal injuries in an auto accident, then you likely know by now a little bit about the ICBC claims process.
As most Vancouver residents know, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is involved in many auto accident and personal injury claims. While the ICBC claims process ultimately can help car accident victims to receive compensation for their injuries, it can also seem mystifying and confusing, especially given the complexity of some of the steps involved.
In particular, the “Examination for Discovery” part of an ICBC claim can be daunting. If you have questions, of course, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Vancouver.
What is an Examination for Discovery?
For Vancouver residents who are not especially familiar with the ICBC claims process, preparing for the Examination for Discovery can be confusing and complicated.
In short, the Examination for Discovery is a legal term for fact finding. This step is also known simply as “discovery.” It can also be described as a “deposition” or as an “oral interrogatory.”
The discovery process allows both parties to gather important information to assess the validity of a claim. In some situations, the Examination for Discovery can result in a settlement offer and an accepted settlement. If the Examination for Discovery lead to a settlement, you may not have to face going into court.
What is the Purpose of the Examination for Discovery?
Generally speaking, lawyers on the opposite side of a lawsuit want to seek facts that pertain to the case and to get more in-depth information about the facts they currently have.
To do this, lawyers need to have a way to ask questions of parties involved in the lawsuit. It is a pre-trial step that typically takes place at a lawyer’s office or a Court Reporter’s office.
Why do parties want to engage in discovery before trial?
In addition to learning more about the merits of each side of the case — and thinking about whether a settlement might be appropriate — this part of the ICBC claim also helps to remove surprises when you reach the courtroom. You can clarify issues that are at stake in your claim, and you can get more information about proof and evidence.
The Examination for Discovery can also help lawyers to gain a better sense of a witness’s credibility in the event that she or he will need to testify in court.
What Questions Will Be Asked at the Examination for Discovery?
When you go to a lawyer’s office or a Court Reporter’s office for the Examination for Discovery, a number of steps will occur, including:
- You (and anyone else who is being examined during this part of your ICBC claims process) will take an oath promising to tell the truth during the discovery.
- One party will ask questions related to the claim, and the other party will be required to answer truthfully.
- Once the questioning is finished, both the questions and the answers will be recorded in print as a transcript of the Examination for Discovery. You can expect this transcript to be made available to both parties for the purposes of preparing for trial.
In general, if you have a personal injury claim, much of the focus during the Examination for Discovery will concern liability and the amount of damages. In other words, your questions are likely to fall into one of two categories:
- Fault for the accident and injury
- Damages incurred in the accident.
According to the ICBC website’s section on fault, a claim and its resulting damages can be decided very differently based on whether you are:
- At fault
- Not at fault
- Partially at fault
- In a situation where fault cannot be determined.
You might anticipate questions that fall into broad categories. According to a checklist provided by the Law Society of British Columbia, you will receive questions about your personal history, including your name and contact information.
Some other examples of questions you might receive in an Examination for Discovery include but are not limited to the following types of inquiries:
- How did the auto accident happen?
- Were you driving the vehicle at the time of the crash?
- Were you engaged in any distracting behaviors when the collision occurred?
- Have you been involved in a car accident previously?
- How long have you had your driver’s license?
- Was there damage to the vehicles? If so, can you describe the damage?
- How have your injuries impeded your ability to work?
- How have your injuries prevented you from carrying out regular daily activities?
- How has the accident limited your ability to care for your children?
- How would you describe the pain you experienced, and continue to experience, in the accident?
- What is your current salary?
- What was your salary before the accident?
What Happens After an Examination for Discovery?
Your lawyer will use the transcript from the Examination for Discovery. You should expect that the transcript will be used at the trial if one is needed.
This is particularly true in situations where one of the witnesses gives different answers in court than he or she did during the Examination for Discovery. For instance, the transcript might be used to challenge an answer that the witness gave during the trial. This is called “impeachment” of a witness.
Hiring a Lawyer for Your Examination for Discovery and ICBC Claim
The Examination for Discovery part of an ICBC claim can be extremely complicated. Parties often have a limited understanding of the best ways to prepare for this part of the claims process.
If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Vancouver personal injury lawyer. If you were injured in an auto accident, our firm can help you. Contact Klein Lawyers LLP today to learn more about our services.