Facts to Consider

Should I handle this alone? Do I need a lawyer?

Before you attempt to answer this question consider the following:

Consider your Position

Insurance Companies are highly trained in processing and settling insurance claims, obviously, it’s what they do every day. Most individuals are not trained in insurance claim processes nor have training in legal rights and injury evaluations, medical prognosis and injury recovery, treatment needs and costs and most importantly knowledge of recent settlements and awards for like injuries and circumstances.

Who Represents You

In many multi vehicle accidents cases in B.C. ICBC will be representing you and also they will be representing the other person involved in the accident. Many see this situation as similar to having your Mother-in-law represent you in a divorce settlement!  Your ICBC adjuster is negotiating with the other parties ICBC adjuster to provide a settlement to the ICBC claim! Clearly, who is in the stronger position here, when both party’s ICBC adjusters have a single ICBC corporate goal to minimize settlements.

Who's really at Fault?

Entitlements for at-fault or partially at-fault injury claims are severally reduced from entitlements for no-fault personal injury claims. ICBC and other insurance providers are trained to determine fault from the onset of the claim. They usually press for the accident information that you give them up- front during the early stages of your recovery from the shock and guilt of being in an accident. Generally you have not interviewed witnesses or reviewed the accident scene before you give your story of events. In most cases your memory of the accident is from your point of view, remember you didn’t plan it, hence the details are miscued by your thoughts and actions at the moment of the accident which generally misrepresents the reality of the situation. Insurers know this but use your initial statements to determine fault quickly and without in-depth investigation.

What should I say?

ICBC adjusters commence the claim resolution process from the very start of the claim, they ask you questions about the accident and your injuries, up front and right away, so that they can form their opinion of fault and extent of injury claims right away. They usually ask you for a written statement early on in the claim. From their ICBC experience, this works very well for them in allotting blame and in minimizing injury claims.

My experience as shown that this seldom works well for the injured party. If you hire a lawyer, right away, his experience will help in determining the facts, before you make statements based solely on your beliefs or recollection of the events. Without a lawyer and accident incident report you are left only with the ICBC/Insurer’s evaluation of fault and their statements of injury entitlements.

When should I accept a settlement offer?

ICBC/Insurer generally will explain their version of accident and their offer of compensation and attempt to resolve the claim quickly. Without representation, you are left without recourse and find yourself having to accept their position.

Beware! They are motivated to settle the insurance claim at the lowest reasonable cost to the insurance company.

Final agreement to a settlement offer should only be considered after thorough review of the accident circumstances, a full prognosis of injury recovery and future care needs and monetary effects of the accident, and finally a comparison of like injury awards, to ensure fairness. After determining your optimum position your lawyer can then negotiate to arrive at a fair agreement. If agreement cannot be reached your lawyer is experienced in moving the process forward to arbitration and if required legal proceeding to best represent your position to secure a fair outcome.