One Accident, Two Claims: When to Speak to an Injury Lawyer in BC
Getting into a car accident in British Columbia can be extremely stressful, especially when serious injuries have occurred. You will understandably be focused on getting the proper medical care you need in order to recover. It’s also important that you speak to an injury lawyer that can help you navigate the appropirate claims process for your specific situation. For example, if this is the first accident you’ve been in, you may be surprised to learn that you may be eligible to file two claims to receive compensation after an injury. The first claim is with Insurance Corporation British Columbia (ICBC) for your statutory auto insurance benefits and the other will be a tort claim against the at-fault driver, represented by ICBC.
Understanding the Claims Process after a Car Accident in BC
The accident benefits claim is through your own automobile insurance policy and provided to you regardless of who was at fault. In contrast, the tort claim is against the at-fault driver and their insurer, ICBC, in a process similar to a conventional lawsuit.
Part 7 Accident Benefits Claim
Accident benefits are provided through ICBC to all insured drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians, including those found to be at fault for their accident. If you fall into one of these categories and do not have insurance, then you may be able to obtain ICBC benefits through the driver’s insurance policy.
Part 7 benefits are statutory, provided under the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act. Your entitlements include medical care, rehabilitation, and death and funeral benefits if they are needed. Income replacement benefits are also available if you are unable to work due to the accident, as well as homemaker benefits if you do not earn an income and are now unable to carry on your normal pre-accident activities. If your injuries become permanent, ICBC may also pay the cost of attendant care, specialized aids and vocational training.
In order to access accident benefits, you must follow the time limits that govern the application for Part 7 Benefits and ICBC forms. The best way to obtain these benefits is by hiring a legal professional to assist you with the process.
A tort claim is filed as a civil lawsuit against the driver who is at-fault for the accident, who is defended by his or her third party insurer, typically ICBC. You may obtain compensation for injuries and losses through the tort claim provided you are not 100 percent at-fault for the accident. A fault determination by ICBC is not binding. If you disagree with it, you can still file a lawsuit asking that a court determine liability.
An Injury Lawyer Can Help Determine Who’s at Fault
Determining fault is not always straightforward and some contributory negligence of the other party in the car accident could be found. Sometimes even a driver who has been charged with an offence will still be able to prove a tort claim. It is best to discuss the circumstances of your accident with a local injury lawyer before speaking to ICBC about your situation. At Spraggs Law, we offer complimentary initial consultations. Our personal injury lawyers can discuss the details with you and help you determine the best next steps to take, based on your specific case.
What Claims Can Cover
In the lawsuit, you can make a claim for lost past income, lost future income, attendant care, caregiving, out-of-pocket expenses, uncovered medical treatment, cost of future care and medical treatment and housekeeping, among other losses, such as money management fees, court ordered interest and legal costs and disbursements. You may also claim for non-pecuniary damages (e.g., pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) from the accident. Family members may also sue for your loss of guidance, care and companionship.
What to Expect
Courts will determine what damages you are entitled to based on past precedents. By looking at judgments from similar cases, it may be possible to arrive at an approximate range, but no one can tell you with certainty what you will receive. Each case is unique and the outcome will depend on the facts of the situation, including the strength of the medical evidence and your credibility. Serious and permanent injuries are generally compensated more generously because the loss is greater and future costs of care may be high.
Pursuing a Tort Claim
In order to pursue a tort claim, you must give notice to the potential defendant soon after you have suffered an injury or even suspect you have been hurt. In addition to the notice period there is also a limitation on how long you can wait before filing the claim. You may be prevented from suing if you begin your lawsuit after the limitation period has expired. A car accident injury lawyer can help you get started with what is required right away.
Speak With an Injury Lawyer Before Filing a Claim
It is important to obtain legal advice when applying for accident benefits or starting a tort claim as the process is complicated. A lawyer can answer the questions discussed above, such as:
- Am I entitled to an accident benefits claim, tort claim or both?
- Whose insurance policy will provide the accident benefits?
- How do I complete the accident benefits forms?
- How will I know who is considered at-fault for the accident?
- Can I start a tort claim if I have been charged as a result of the accident?
Consult With an Injury Lawyer Serving Coquitlam and the Lower Mainland to File a Claim Today
When you have been injured in an accident, our lawyers are ready to take action. We can help you, whether your accident entails one claim or two. We will fight for you against ICBC, who is obliged to keep costs low for the benefit of taxpayers and to protect the other insured party. Our lawyers at Spraggs are highly trained and experienced professionals who can apply the law to your case to obtain the best results.
Call us today to book your free, no-obligation consultation at 1-604-359-1614