Involvement in an auto accident in Vancouver can be a scary and, in many cases, devastating experience. In the immediate moments following a traffic collision, you may not be able to think clearly about steps you must take in order to abide by the law and to be eligible for financial compensation if the other party was at fault.
Numerous residents of British Columbia find themselves asking this question: Do I have to report a car accident to ICBC? They also wonder whether it is necessary to work with a lawyer.
As most Vancouver drivers know, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) provides universal auto insurance to motorists in B.C. ICBC also is responsible for licensing drivers and their vehicles, and for providing vehicle registrations.
Given the broad responsibilities of ICBC, it is also a body that oversees automobile accidents in our area. It is mandatory to report all motor vehicle accidents that occur in British Columbia to ICBC.
If you do not report a car accident to ICBC — regardless of whether the accident was your fault — you can face financial consequences. Indeed, if ICBC is not promptly notified of an auto accident, your right to a financial recovery can be drastically limited.
The Importance of Seeking Legal Advice Prior to Making a Statement to ICBC
You should always seek counsel from an experienced Vancouver car accident lawyer before making a statement to ICBC.
It is important to remember that ICBC is an insurance company. While it is not like other insurance companies in certain ways, it is ICBC’s intention to pay as small an amount to claimants as possible.
Insurance companies, in general, want to avoid paying claims whenever possible. Insurance companies, including ICBC, simply are not advocates for claimants.
How Long Do I Have to Report an Accident to ICBC?
As soon as you are involved in an auto accident, it will be extremely important to have a lawyer on your side. Although ICBC is your insurer, that does not mean that ICBC will advocate on your behalf.
Indeed, ICBC will do everything it can to ensure that it does not spend money to pay a claim if it does not need to pay. As such, the statement you make to ICBC can drastically impact the way in which ICBC handles your claim.
For example, without meaning to make a mistake, your statement could suggest that you are at fault — or even partially at fault — for the crash.
ICBC can use information from your statement to avoid paying on a claim. Given the sensitivity of the information contained in your statement, it is essential that a Vancouver car accident lawyer discuss your statement with you in advance.
What is a Statement?
It is important to keep in mind that any contact you have with an insurance company may be considered a statement. Indeed, any interaction you have with ICBC — whether it is over the phone, through electronic communication or through hard-copy correspondence — may be a statement that can impact the outcome of your claim.
The following examples represent situations in which you likely are making a statement to ICBC that can be used by ICBC to try to limit the damages you receive:
- When you call the 24-hour telephone number for a Dial-a-Claim representative to report an accident.
- When you use the online form to report an accident.
- When you sign a statement created by an ICBC claims representative.
- When you communicate with a claims adjuster via e-mail.
- When you communicate with a claims adjuster over the telephone.
- When you communicate with a claims adjuster through hard-copy correspondence.
- When you communicate with a claims adjuster in person.
As you can see, essentially any and all communication you have with ICBC can be deemed a statement and can be used in an effort to reduce your recovery.
Who Must Provide a Statement?
As stated above, if you are a driver involved in a car accident in British Columbia, you are required to report the collision to ICBC. If you do not report the accident, you could risk losing your insurance benefits and the ability to seek compensation for your damages.
In addition to drivers, if you are a passenger or other party who has sustained injuries in traffic collisions, you should also report the accident to receive an ICBC passenger claim.
In other words, anyone who has been a driver involved in an auto accident or another party who has been injured in a car crash must provide a statement to ICBC.
Initial statements can be made to ICBC in many different forms, including:
What Must Be Included in Your Statement?
Depending on your role in an auto accident, the information required in a statement can vary. For instance, if you were a driver involved in a car crash, ICBC claims representative and/or the adjuster may ask questions related to how the accident occurred. You will also likely be asked about injuries and property damage.
If you were a passenger or a pedestrian who sustained injuries in an auto accident, you will be required to provide information about your injuries.
Regardless of whether you were a driver, passenger or another party in a traffic collision, it is important to safeguard your rights by discussing your statement in advance with a personal injury lawyer in British Columbia.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Vancouver, British Columbia
Auto accidents are startling, anxiety-inducing events. When a traffic collision happens, the parties involved in the crash often are not thinking about their responsibilities to report the accident to ICBC.
However, as we have emphasized, there can be financial consequences limiting your right to a recovery if ICBC is not notified promptly. And when you do notify ICBC of the crash and make a statement, it is essential to have an experienced auto accident lawyer in Vancouver on your side.
Like other insurance companies, ICBC is not an advocate for drivers who have been in traffic collisions. Instead, ICBC wants to pay as little money as possible for claims.
So, if you or someone you love has sustained injuries in a car accident, you should seek legal help as soon as possible. Contact Klein Lawyers LLP to learn more about the services we offer to residents of Vancouver.