If you were injured in a car or other vehicle accident in BC, chances are you will be dealing with ICBC Claims – the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. In British Columbia, ICBC is the only insurance company that is entitled to provide basic insurance to all drivers. Basic coverage is mandatory in British Columbia and consists of third party liability coverage of $200,000 (although it is strongly recommended you obtain more than just the basic coverage for your vehicle) and a number of Part 7 or ‘No Fault’ benefits.
Injured claimants often want to negotiate with ICBC without the benefit of their own car accident lawyer. The following should assist you to understand what damages you are entitled to by way of monetary compensation from ICBC and the driver to the vehicle that caused the accident or crash.
- Pain and Suffering – you are entitled to a lump-sum amount for the injury that you have sustained and the pain and suffering that comes with that injury. The maximum amount that one can get for this head of damage is approximately $370,000. That amount is reserved for the most catastrophic injuries, such as quadriplegia, paraplegia, major brain injuries, or other permanent, severe injuries. Each case is assessed on its facts and a judge will look at previous cases to find a similar fact pattern.
- Past Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity – if you have missed time off of work because of the accident or have missed out on opportunities to earn income that you would have earned had the accident not happened, you will generally be entitled to recovery of your net (after tax) lost wages or potential earnings.
- Future Loss of Earning Capacity – in cases where the evidence supports the likelihood that you will lose out on days or hours of work, or over-time hours, or the ability to work at certain jobs, you may also be entitled to future wage loss. Future wage loss is much more difficult to prove and assess because the future is uncertain. If you can prove that there is a real and substantial possibility of a future monetary loss, you will be entitled to compensation for that future loss.
- Future Costs of Care – likewise, you may also require treatment into the future to help you deal with your injuries, maintain a reasonable lifestyle, or to improve your condition post-accident. If the care is not covered by the government health care system, you also may be entitled to future care items. Again, you will need evidence of the medical justification, frequency required, and efficacy of these care items. This typically is proven by medical evidence from an expert witness.
- Special expenses – if you have had to spend money for treatment, medication, travel, parking, or other out-of-pocket expenses that are attributable to your accident, you can present these expenses for reimbursement. The expenses have to be reasonable and supported by the evidence about your injury.
So why get a lawyer involved?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis where you do not have to pay any fees upfront and not until your claim is settled. This allows you to have some financial flexibility during a time when you may be working, may be working less hours than regularly, or when you have to fund different types of treatment. Lawyers have experience in navigating the complex personal injury system to ensure that you receive fair and full compensation for your claim. Often, claims will require the use of specialists or experts to provide a diagnosis and opinions on your injuries to justify your claims, and your lawyer should be setting these up and covering the costs of these private appointments up front.
At Pacific Law Group, we have extensive experience negotiating files with ICBC and other insurance companies. In the vast majority of our cases representing injured victims, the amount of compensation our clients receive is considerably higher than any offer that was made directly to them from the insurance company, even after paying our contingency or percentage fees.