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Guest Blog Post by Ryan McCardell. Ryan can be reached at 604-641-3442 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Given my specialization in handling motor vehicle claims on behalf of injured parties, I have often seen mistakes or omissions commonly made, both because of the stress and shock of an accident, and because of a lack of knowledge about the process of proceeding with a claim. Sometimes, the mistakes or omissions have very little bearing on the ultimate outcome of a claim, however other times the mistakes or omissions, while innocent enough, may have drastic consequences, including leaving a person unable to receive any compensation for injuries suffered in the accident.
Below, I have categorized a few common mistakes which I hope those reading will be able to avoid. Of course, if you are ever in an accident of any kind the best advice that I can give is to call a lawyer who is an expert in these claims, such as myself. The initial advice is free, can be received over the phone, and it will hopefully keep you from falling into any pitfalls when handling and eventually trying to settle your claim.
1. Not getting the contact information tied to the other vehicle involved in the accident
You have a legal duty to make reasonable efforts to properly identify the driver and owner of the vehicle which collided with you. A failure to do so may prevent you from pursuing a claim. Therefore, while ideally you should try to obtain the driver’s contact information from his or her driver’s licence, and the owner’s contact information from the insurance certificate, at the very least, immediately take a picture of, or write down, the vehicle’s plate number.
2. Not Documenting At the Scene of the Accident
If you or those you are with can take pictures of the accident scene, either with a camera or a phone, do so. Often, not only the vehicle damage, but other details including debris on the road, the location of crosswalks and street signs, and the resting positions of the vehicles are critical in determining how and why the accident happened.
Also, try to find witnesses at the scene and make best efforts to obtain the contact information for a supportive witness who actually saw how the accident happened. Again, a single statement from even one independent witness can often have a drastic effect on your ability to prove the other driver’s responsibility for the accident.
3. Discussing Details of your Case with Others
While certainly you will want to and you should explain to friends and family that you were injured in an accident, do not discuss legal matters or the detailed circumstances of the accident with anyone
This recommendation applies especially to the other parties involved in the accident, even if they are family or friends. Under no circumstance should you discuss responsibility for the accident with those involved in the accident. Leave it to us and ICBC to determine who was responsible.
4. Giving ICBC a signed detailed statement
Though you must report the accident to ICBC, you do not have to provide a detailed signed statement. In fact, the main purpose of the statement is not to allow you to access benefits (as some adjusters may have you believe), but to acquire information and evidence which may assist ICBC in defending against your claim.
5. Misunderstanding the ICBC representative’s role
Though the ICBC adjuster works for you in terms of allowing you to access rehabilitation benefits as soon as possible after an accident, the other important aspect of their job is to close your claim as soon as possible – certainly before the extent of your injuries are known; and ultimately to settle your claim as cheap as possible. Despite being a Crown Corporation, ICBC is an insurance business, not a charity.
6. Authorizing ICBC to Obtain your Medical and Work History
Though an adjuster may tell you that they need you to sign authorizations to access your medical and work history before they can process your rehabilitation benefits, this is simply not the case. ICBC has no right to your medical and work records as a condition to providing you with rehabilitation or disability benefits.
Also, if you provide these authorizations, ICBC may use them to request your medical and work history and use the information to investigate their defences to your claim or use them against you when you try to resolve your claim. For this reason, our first step after being retained by a client is to write ICBC and advise that our client’s authorizations are revoked.
Photo courtesy of cygnus 921