For your ICBC Claim it is your lawyer’s job to get you the best compensation as possible for your injuries. You can also always help them out a fair bit by avoiding making these top 10 mistakes. ICBC, also known as the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is the insurance company we most often deal with when dealing with motor vehicle collisions.
We know, you are busy. It is one more thing on your list of things to do in life that you are trying to squeeze in. If you go to your doctor, they are probably just going to tell you what you already know.
Yet, the truth is, it is your general physician’s notes and records that will be reviewed in detail by ICBC’s lawyers when there are talks of settlement or preparation for trial.
In order for you to make a claim for your injuries, it is way easier to prove if you attended your doctor regularly.
The reason why you go and see your own general physician is so that they can follow your progress. Walk-in clinic doctors are great when you have an acute problem and you can’t get in to see your regular doctor right away. They are not so good if you need to follow the progression of whether or not your injuries are improving like they should be.
For example, maybe at first blush you seem to have regular soft-tissue injuries in your lower back as a result of your accident, but over time, that back problem is not healing and despite it being some time post-accident, your back pain continues to be excruciating. Because of what you tell your doctor, they may order an x-ray or an MRI and find out that you have a slipped disc. A clinic doctor may have (and we will suggest will likely have) missed your ongoing complaint because they have only seen you once. They have no continued context in which to see your injuries.
Okay, okay, we know this sounds self-serving. Yet, bear with us for a moment. We have tons and I mean literally tons of examples we can point to where, despite the injured person hiring a lawyer and paying them from the proceeds of their settlement, they still ended up with more money in the end, than if they had not hired a lawyer.
We will go to one of my more significant examples. Years ago we were involved in a case where a young woman was injured with a mild traumatic brain injury (originally ICBC did not know, nor did the young woman know she had this injury).
ICBC offered her a settlement of $20,000. She thought that was awesome, but agreed (because her Mom suggested it) to come and see a lawyer before taking the offer. What the Mom had noticed was that the girl seemed somehow different after the car collision. This difference seemed more significant than just having to do with the trauma of the crash itself.
Long story short, it took a couple of years, but by the time it was all said and done, she had over $200,000 in her pocket. That was after she paid her lawyers. The lawyers uncovered that her continued difficulties were largely as a result of an undiagnosed brain injury.
This is what we say to our clients: You focus on getting better. Leave the legal stuff and running your case to us.
Sometimes people get obsessed with how their ICBC Claim is going. What we think really needs to happen is that you simply focus on healing and getting better. Leave the rest to us.
Although we will be getting in touch with you from time to time to let you know what is happening, and we will need your input from time to time, your focus should really be on yourself and your healing. You are in good hands, so leave it to us.
Sometimes, due to budget constraints or time constraints, people stop getting the treatment they need. Even though you can get your initial chiropractic treatments covered by ICBC, there is usually a user-fee. Some people cannot afford this.
Talk to your lawyer about how to make this work. Once again, you getting better is your priority. We can help with that. We even have an arrangement with an awesome chiropractic and massage clinic in Victoria where you can get the treatment you need and they will wait to be paid until your claim is paid out. Yes, seriously. We know, awesome right?!
The neat thing about an ICBC Claim is that your lawyer is paid on a contingency fee basis. This means, of course, that your lawyer is paid a percentage of what you are ultimately awarded by way of settlement or the court.
Whether you hire a lawyer immediately or hire a lawyer later does not mean that the percentage or price will change. You should hire your lawyer at the outset so they can take care of your ICBC Claim and ensure that all the proper (and not improper) information makes it to ICBC’s lawyers.
Here is what we know, almost nobody relishes the idea of going to court. In fact, one of the first things our clients tell us is: “but I don’t want to go to court.”
Of course you don’t!
Just because you hire a lawyer does not mean that you are going to end up in a witness box a couple of years from now or that your ICBC claim is going to turn into a long and drawn-out process. There are oodles and oodles of chances for settlement prior to going to trial.
At Hemminger Law Group although we start in excess of 100 legal actions in a year, we only end up in a trial in the Supreme Court of British Columbia a couple of times.
In essence, there is a rare chance that your case will not settle before trial, but know that this is a choice you and your lawyer make together.
More than 98% of actions commenced in the Supreme Court of British Columbia are settled prior to there being a trial.
Think of getting legal help as a resource that will assist you in putting you in the best financial position possible.
Many of us feel that our healing will depend more greatly on what a chiropractor, acupuncturist or massage therapist will do for us rather than a regular medical doctor.
The thing is, although we are generally becoming more and more aware of the value of more non-traditional treatments like acupuncture, for example, at the end of the day, in order for your claim to have the credibility it needs, you do need to engage with more traditional medicine.
In essence, it is not good enough for your chiropractor to state their opinion as to your injuries, in order for your injuries to have credibility for ICBC’s lawyers and the courts, they have to be confirmed by a medical doctor.
It is simply the way it is.
When you are in a collision, things can be pretty stressful at that moment and it is sometimes difficult to think clearly in the moment. Nevertheless, it is hopeful that someone remembers to obtain the information of the other driver and the names, addresses and contact information of any witnesses.
Sometimes it is really important to get an eye-witness account of what happened. This is particularly when liability is in dispute and what you say happened is different from what the driver who hit you said happened. For this reason witnesses can be invaluable.
If there are witnesses, your lawyer will contact that witness early on after the accident to interview them in order to get their account of what happened. It is important for the lawyer to make contact and get the initial statement. Because sometimes it takes a few years for a case to settle or go to trial, it is important to keep in contact with any of the witnesses you or your lawyer has spoken to. There is nothing worse than losing contact with a key witness on the eve of trial.
Obviously at Hemminger Law Group we work with you so you can avoid these and other potential mistakes that will affect your claim.
Please contact us for your free consultation with a lawyer.
By Val Hemminger, lawyer