In the event of road accidents or vehicle collisions, your primary concern may be to seek medical help for injuries and recover from the emotional shock! However, there are many other important steps you need to take at the site of the accident so that you do not undermine your rights inadvertently. Our personal injury lawyers’ goal at Dick Byl Law Corporation is to ensure that you handle your circumstances properly in such situations. In a typical road accident case, here is a round-up of basic guidelines you can follow to minimize or possibly avoid the risks and liabilities that may arise and claim your insurance benefits.
Pull over, if you can, and call 911.
Cooperate 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. Lawyers, doctors, physiotherapists, massage, and 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 defences.
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 Employment Insurance (EI) and short-term disability first. It is one of the endless numbers of tricks ICBC uses to keep the value of claims down and increase profits, giving the appearance of greater efficiency. It is not particularly fair, but it is the law.
Shortly after the accident, you will receive a call from “your” adjuster who will be “helping you” and “looking after your claim for you.” These statements are not completely accurate. “Your” adjuster 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 do not tell you that.
Before you see “your” adjuster, 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 upfront, 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 do not.
Do not 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” adjuster 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.