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How much is your fee?

Our contingency fee is 20%, no matter what stage your claim is settled at. This is the lowest fee in British Columbia for a motor vehicle accident. You don’t pay us anything up front, you don’t pay anything along the way, and you don’t pay us anything until we resolve your case for you. In reality, no money ever leaves your pockets, as our fee comes out of the settlement money obtained on your behalf. Be wary of other law firms who charge a fee on a graduated scale, meaning they take more of your money if the matter goes to an Examination for Discovery, they take more of your money if the matter settles just before Trial, and they take more of your money if the matter actually goes to Trial.

If you have an existing offer from ICBC, and would like us to finalize your matter for you, you will not be charged a fee on the amount of your existing offer from ICBC, and our fee will only be based on any amount in excess of your current offer.

Unlike most other law firms, we also do not charge you any interest on disbursements.

I was in a motor vehicle accident. What do I need to do first?

Your primary concern is your health. If you are injured, you should seek immediate medical treatment.

If you are not too seriously injured, you then need to call ICBC Dial-A-Claim at 604-520-8222 if you are calling from the Lower Mainland, or 1-800-910-4222 if you are calling from elsewhere. Simply inform them that an accident occurred. Do not answer any of their questions concerning how the accident happened, or about your injuries. You are NOT required to. Although you can make arrangements with them to repair your vehicle, do not make an appointment to go in and sign a Statement, or any Release of Information forms. Simply advise them that you will be consulting with a lawyer about your claim.

After you have reported your accident to ICBC, you should consult with an ICBC injury lawyer, who can advise you of your legal rights and obligations, and how to best proceed with your claim. At Veale Law, we offer a free consultation in this regard.

I do not have a lawyer yet, and ICBC is asking me to sign a Statement about how the accident happened, and about my injuries. Do I have to sign it?

NO, you are under no obligation to sign this Statement. Simply tell your adjuster that you will be represented by a lawyer for your ICBC injury claim, and that your lawyer will contact them.

I do not have a lawyer yet, and ICBC is asking me to sign Release of Information forms because they want to get information about my employment, my business, my medical records, and my education records. Do I have to sign these forms?

NO, you do not. Quite often such forms allow ICBC to obtain information from as far back in time as they would like. They are not legally entitled to this. Again, simply tell your adjuster that you will be hiring a lawyer, who will contact them.

Contact Veale Law if you have any questions with respect to signing any documentation with ICBC.

Who exactly does my ICBC adjuster work for?

Good question. If you do not have a lawyer, your ICBC adjuster may pay you your “no fault” accident benefits, and will also try to settle your case by offering you an amount for pain and suffering. The problem with this is that your adjuster also represents the party who hit you, and it is the adjuster’s job to close your case as quickly and as cheaply as possible. This creates a serious conflict of interest, as you will not be getting fair value for your ICBC injury claim.

Your adjuster can also be called as a witness by the Defendant to try and reduce your compensation. Anything you say to your adjuster can and will be used against you. Don’t let them tell you that they are looking out for your best interests.

My adjuster has told me that my accident is a low velocity impact. What does this mean to my case?

Does the following quote look familiar to you ?

“the information currently available to ICBC, including the minimal nature of the impact forces involved in the collision, as well as your physical condition at the time of the accident, has led us to believe that the accident did not result in any compensable injury”

Your adjuster is essentially telling you that because the accident occurred at such a low velocity or speed (usually less than 8km/h), you could not possibly have been hurt and, as such, you are not entitled to any compensation for your pain and suffering and/or economic loss.This does not have any effect, however, on your entitlement to “no fault” benefits.

Possible ways to get around this include if you had any pre-existing injuries that would make you more susceptible to being injured; if you had an objective (non-subjective) injury resulting from the accident; or, if there are any extraordinary circumstances that exist.

It is important to note that ICBC’S decision on an “LVI” is of no legal force, and you have redress through the courts, which have consistently shot down ICBC’S policy with respect to an LVI classification, using such terminology as “no scientific justification”, “not a legal principle”, and “illogical”. Please click here for court cases on LVI decisions.

The only times where a Plaintiff may not be successful with an LVI matter is where there are serious issues of credibility, and no corroborating medical documentation. A credible witness with supporting medical documentation will always have an excellent prospect of success.

What are “no fault” or “Section 7” Benefits?

If you are injured in an accident, you are entitled to Accident Benefits (also known as “no fault” Benefits, or “Section 7″ Benefits) from ICBC, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Such benefits include medical care, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic treatment, dental treatment, surgery, wage loss compensation, homemaker benefits, death benefits, and funeral benefits.

If you have permanent injuries, Accident Benefits also pays for costs such as attendant care, specialized aids, and vocational training, depending on your injuries.

A detailed list of what is provided with respect to “no-fault” benefits is contained within Part 7 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation.

Please click here for court cases discussing “no-fault” benefits.

When the accident occurred, a family member of mine was in the vehicle with me. Is this person entitled to Accident Benefits?

Yes, so long as your vehicle was licensed and insured.

The definition of an “insured”, someone entitled to make a claim for accident benefits, is contained within Section 78 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation.

When do I have to actually apply for “no fault” or “Section 7” Benefits?

Pursuant to Section 97 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, you must do so within 90 days of the accident, or you may lose your right to claim for them.

What if I am entitled to certain benefits from another source besides ICBC?

ICBC “no fault” benefits are considered a form of secondary insurance. This means that, if you are entitled to receive benefits from somewhere else like EI or Blue Cross, then you must do so. If there is a shortfall in the amount that you are entitled to, then ICBC should make up the difference.

I have a child that was under the age of 19 at the time of the accident. Can a claim be made by the child?

Yes, a claim can be made, however the child would need a parent or guardian to bring the ICBC injury claim, and any settlement would have to be approved by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.

I was in an accident in B.C. caused by an uninsured B.C. driver. Can I still make a claim?

Yes, you can. Every B.C. resident, regardless of whether or not you have any insurance, can make a claim for up to $200,000 under Section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, even though the other driver does not have any insurance. If you have insurance, and your injuries are very serious, then your Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP) from your basic Autoplan policy may cover you for up to $1 million.

I was the victim of a hit and run accident in B.C. Can I still make a claim if I do not know the identity of the other owner and driver?

Yes, you can. Every B.C. resident, regardless of whether or not you have any insurance, can make an ICBC hit and run claim for up to $200,000 under Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act. If you have insurance, then your Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP) from your basic Autoplan policy may cover you for up to $1 million. In either case, however, you must make reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the other owner and driver, and ICBC must be notified in writing within 6 months of your intent to make a claim, but preferably much sooner. You are also required to file a police report within 48 hours of the accident.

Please click here for court cases on hit and run accidents.

It has been a few months now since the accident. I feel o.k., but not that great. I know I will get better eventually. Should I settle now?

No, absolutely not. It is very risky to attempt to settle too early, before your injuries have healed. The danger of settling too early, before your injuries have healed, is that later, more serious injuries may appear that are related to your accident. By settling too early, you have lost your right to sue for more money.

Please click here for court cases on the difficulty of setting settlements aside.

How often should I see my doctor?

It is important to see your doctor on a regular basis, preferably once a month, to report your ongoing symptoms. If there are large gaps in your visits to your doctor, then ICBC or the Court may conclude that you were really not very hurt.

Please click here for court cases on doctor visits.

How long will it take for my matter to settle?

It is very difficult to give a set answer to this. ICBC injury claims are very fact specific, and will all depend on the duration and severity of your injuries, and how far through the litigation process that your matter proceeds.

Please click here to see the general path that a claim can take.

How likely will it be that my matter goes to trial?

Not that likely. Only about 1% of overall claims actually proceed all the way to a trial, and these are typically the more serious ones.

Are there financial risks of going to trial?

Yes, absolutely. If you lose, you will likely be ordered to pay the Defendant’s costs and disbursements. These can often run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Even if you are successful at trial, however you do not beat the amount of the Defendant’s formal offer to settle, you may have to pay double the amount of the Defendant’s costs from the date of the formal offer onwards. There have been cases where the Plaintiff is successful, but yet does not beat the amount of the Defendant’s formal offer to settle, and ends up owing more in costs to the Defendant than the amount awarded to the Plaintiff for their injuries.

Given the potentially devastating costs consequences of going to trial, it is always best to be well advised of your options prior to deciding whether to proceed all the way to a trial or not. Contact Veale Law today if you have any questions about the risks of going to trial.

Please click here for court cases on the risks of going to trial.

What is my case worth?

Again, it is very difficult to answer this at the beginning. ICBC injury settlements vary in amounts. The value of your case will depend on such factors as liability, contributory negligence, the duration and severity of your injuries, and the effects your injuries have had on your life.

Are there any time limits for my claim?

Various laws and statutes require steps to be taken on your claim within a specified amount of time. Depending on the nature of your claim, there can be different time limits and limitation periods that apply to your claim. It is essential that you arrange for a free consultation with Veale Law, so that your legal rights can be protected.

Am I compensated for “gross” wage loss, or “net” wage loss?

You are only entitled to be compensated for net wage loss.

Please click here for court cases discussing income loss.

Can I be reimbursed for my “out of pocket” expenses?

Yes, you can, as long as they are reasonable. It is very important that you keep all of your original receipts, as ICBC requires these before they will consider reimbursement.