When Should You Hire a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
If you are involved in a collision in Vancouver or anywhere in British Columbia, you will at some point be dealing with ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia). Coverage through ICBC is mandatory for drivers throughout the province, and you will need to file a claim with ICBC if you are injured in a car accident.
Although the ICBC website includes instructions on how to report an accident claim, the process may not be as straightforward as you think. In situations like these, it may be in your best interest to hire a car accident lawyer to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.
The first step is a free consultation. Contact Klein Lawyers today to find out how we can help.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
Whether they work for a crown corporation like ICBC or in the private sector, insurance adjusters put on a friendly face when they start talking to claimants. They might come across as kind and sympathetic, which they may actually be, but their job is to limit the amount of money their employer pays you.
Because all drivers in British Columbia are required to carry ICBC Basic Autoplan insurance, you will at least be contacted by an adjuster from ICBC. Hiring a lawyer who knows how to handle these interactions on your behalf and file properly completed claim paperwork within the deadlines specified by ICBC may be the key to receiving the compensation you need.
Some drivers in British Columbia purchase optional insurance beyond Basic Autoplan from private insurance companies. If you are filing a claim with a third-party insurance company, it is also in your interest to hire a lawyer.
Adjusters at private insurance companies may be incentivized to pressure drivers who file claims to settle for less. With this in mind, having a lawyer who knows your case and understands these insurance company tactics can prevent you from accepting an unfair offer.
Questions of Compensation
Accident Benefits under the Basic Autoplan cover up to $300,000 in medical expenses. The policy also provides for wage replacement capped at $740 per week.
Unfortunately, with the price of medical care on a seemingly endless upward trend, these benefits may not be enough. If your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages exceed what ICBC offers, a lawyer can help you build a tort claim to pursue the full compensation you deserve. If ICBC disputes your claim and the case has to go to trial, your attorney should be prepared and able to advocate on your behalf in court.
Another part of your claim that may be disputed by ICBC is pain and suffering damages for so-called “minor injuries.” ICBC compensation is capped at $5,500 for non-economic damages related to injuries it deems minor, such as:
- Persistent pain
- Minor whiplash
- Road rash
- Mild concussion
- Pain and dysfunction of the jaw joints and muscles (temporomandibular joint disorder)
- Cuts, bruises, sprains, and strains
Any medical costs related to treating these injuries are subject to the much higher $200,000-$300,000 caps listed above; this limitation refers specifically to emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other costs of these injuries that are difficult to quantify.
Minor injuries after an accident are typically treatable, but they can have long-term effects beyond the physical symptoms. For example, chronic pain takes an emotional as well as a physical toll. Your ICBC benefits may cover the medical treatment, but how is $5,500 adequate compensation for pain that may reduce your quality of life for years or even decades to come?
A lawyer who is experienced in ICBC and car accident claims should be able to present evidence and make a compelling argument that you deserve more. One possible case for additional pain and suffering damages after an injury initially deemed minor is to prove that the injury has persisted for over a year. ICBC no longer considers this a minor injury, at which point you may be eligible for additional benefits.
Questions of Fault
In 2021, ICBC is planning to adopt a no-fault insurance scheme. Except for certain circumstances, drivers will no longer be allowed to win damages regardless of their liability for the accident. ICBC alone will determine fault, which may affect how much you pay in premiums and the deductible you may need to pay for repairing your vehicle.
And, for the next 14 months, determining fault is still part of the ICBC claims process. Being found at fault for an accident carries significant financial ramifications. Depending on the nature of the collision, the at-fault party may also receive a traffic citation and have to pay a fine. For all of these reasons, it is worthwhile to consider hiring a lawyer.
This is especially true if the other driver tries to cast blame for the accident – in whole or in part – on you. Without a lawyer, it is your version of events against the other driver’s. However, your lawyer will investigate and gather evidence to support your assertions and prove the other driver was at fault.
Why Hire Klein Lawyers?
At Klein Lawyers, we have years of experience representing clients in motor vehicle plaintiff cases. Every case is different, and we tailor our strategy to pursue the best outcome for you. We stand ready to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf, resolve your case through arbitration, or go to court, working with you at every step so you understand your options.
To start building your car accident case, please call Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 today. Your initial consultation is free, and we have offices in Vancouver and other cities throughout British Columbia to serve you.