What to Do if You're in an Accident
- Pull over, if you can, and call 911.
- Co-operate with the first responders, police and paramedics.
- Remember that our various statutes require that you remain at the scene, provide name and address particulars, and insurance/registration particulars to the other driver(s).
- Get as much scene evidence as you can get. Almost everyone carries a cell phone; almost all cell phones have a camera feature. Take as many pictures as you can of the vehicles, the skid-marks, the location of debris on the roadway, the damage on the vehicles and so on. The more, the better. Video is better yet.
- Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses. If you do not have this, a witness might as well not exist.
- Phone the ICBC Dial-a-Claim line at 1-800-910-4222, make a claim, and write down your claim number. Everyone, lawyers, doctors, physiotherapists, massage therapists-EVERYONE will want this number.
- Get medical attention, and do what your doctors, physiotherapists, etc. tell you to do. ICBC has been successful in too many cases because there is a lack of medical evidence. They also win plenty of cases by arguing that you continue to be injured because you do not follow medical advice. Do not give ICBC these defenses.
- If you cannot work because of an accident, go to Employment Insurance. They will normally pay you some compensation for 15 weeks of lost income.
- If you have a short-term disability plan with your employer, make a claim under it. A few years ago ICBC was able to change the law, requiring you to exhaust other sources of compensation like EI and short-term disability first. It's one of an endless number of tricks ICBC uses to keep the value of claims down, and increase profits, giving the appearance of greater efficiency. It's not particularly fair, but it's the law.
- Shortly after the accident, you will receive a call from "your" adjustor who will be "helping you" and "looking after your claim for you". These statements are not completely accurate. "Your" adjustor is paid by ICBC, and must follow ICBC corporate policy, which is to use every possible means legally available to pay out as little as possible to you. They play hardball. They just don't tell you that.
- Before you see "your" adjustor, come and see us at Dick Byl Law in Prince George. We offer a free initial consultation. We will give you a fair and straightforward assessment of your case. If you want to hire us, we work on a percentage of what we collect for you. We want no money up front, and we never send interim bills. If a case is lost (that happens only rarely) you receive no bill. That will be in writing, signed by you, and by us. We work for you, NEVER for ICBC. Many law firms work both sides of this particular street. We don't.
- Don't give ICBC a written statement without us reviewing it first. The law is tricky and complex. There are many ways that a case can be lost. One wrong word can sink a ship.
- If you are injured by an unidentified driver, see us immediately. There are all kinds of legal technicalities in such a case, and "your" adjustor will not tell you about them.
- If you think you are being followed, you probably are. ICBC loves using private investigators, and a host of other nasty tricks to turn your personal life upside down. Be mindful of this.
- Keep track of all of your expenses. Keep receipts. Keep invoices. It may only be ten or twenty dollars here and there, but you will be surprised how it all adds up. If there is no receipt or invoice, it might as well not exist.
DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. DO NOT DO DRUGS AND DRIVE. FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD. STAY SAFE. HEEDING THESE COMMON SENSE RULES WILL DIMINISH THE LIKELIHOOD OF AN ENCOUNTER WITH ICBC, AND THAT'S A GOOD THING.