Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What types of cases do you handle?
A: Our personal injury lawyers have helped clients obtain the best possible outcomes in the following types of motor vehicle and other cases:
- Rear end collisions
- Intersection accidents
- Hit and run accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Cyclist accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
Q: I just had a car crash! What do I do?
A: Call 911. If there are no injuries, the police might not attend. Regardless, be sure to record the name and address of the other driver and the plate number and description of their vehicle. The simplest way is to take a photo of the driver’s licence and licence plate with your cell phone if you have one. Otherwise write the information down. Give the other driver your information as well, and take some photos of the vehicles involved. Try to stay calm and avoid raising your voice even if you think the other driver acted badly in causing the collision. Record the names and contact information of any witnesses.
Q: How do I contact ICBC?
A: ICBC operates a Dial-a-Claim service. The telephone number for the Lower Mainland is 604-520-8222 and for the rest of Canada and the U.S.A., it is 1-800-910-4222. This starts the claims process. You will be asked a number of questions about the accident and if you were injured, you may be asked some questions about your medical situation. You will also be given a claim number. Always assume that everything you say will be recorded.
Q: Do I have to call ICBC?
A: Not necessarily. However, if any claim is going to be made, ICBC will need to be informed. This phone call can be made by you, by someone else on your behalf, or if you choose to retain a CFMR lawyer, we can make the call for you.
Q: My car is damaged. How do I get it fixed?
A: If you have “own damage” or “collision” insurance, you can have your car fixed at a reputable body shop. You will be charged the amount of the deductible that your collision insurance covers unless ICBC waives the deductible because they have already determined that the accident is the other driver’s fault. If you pay the deductible and ICBC later decides that the accident is the other driver’s fault, the deductible will be refunded to you.
Q: I’ve been hurt in an accident. Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
A: CFMR personal injury lawyers have the experience and expertise to manage all the legal aspects of your situation. When you’re injured, focusing on your recovery is paramount. Our job is to advocate on your behalf to secure the maximum care and financial compensation due to you, either through the courts or at the mediation table.
Q: I can’t work because of my injuries. Am I entitled to any wage loss benefits from ICBC before my case settles?
A: Yes, but the amount is limited to a maximum of $300 per week, and generally is only payable if you have no other disability benefits available to you. The rules regarding these payments can be rather detailed and complex and your lawyer can guide you through the process. At the time the case settles (or goes to trial), a claim for your full income loss (net of income tax) can be made.
Q: Will ICBC pay for or reimburse me for medical expenses?
A: Regardless of who ICBC decides is at fault for the accident, they have an obligation to pay for certain medical expenses arising out of the accident, such as an ambulance fee, prescribed medications, and therapy costs (up to a specific limit per treatment.) These benefits are known as “Part 7 benefits” because ICBC’s obligation to pay them comes from Part 7 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act Regulations.
If the accident is the fault of another BC driver, ICBC is obliged to pay for all remaining reasonably incurred medical expenses but that usually does not happen until the settlement of the entire claim.
Q: The adjuster at ICBC has told me he/she is “my adjuster.” What does that mean?
A: Above all, remember that the adjuster who is appointed to try to settle your claim is not there to act on your behalf. It is not accurate to describe him or her as “your adjuster.” An adjuster’s job is to settle a claim on behalf of ICBC who is insuring the person responsible for your injury. In other words, the adjuster’s job is to settle your case for the lowest amount possible. A CFMR personal injury lawyer will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
Q: Do I need to hire a lawyer?
A: Not necessarily. If your injury is minor, you may be able to settle the claim directly with ICBC without a lawyer. But it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer before contacting the insurance adjuster to determine your options. Anything you say to the adjuster will become part of your formal statement and may negatively impact your claim in the future. The personal injury lawyers at CFMR will be happy to meet with you without charge and without any obligation. You can then decide what is right for you.
Q: What fees do you charge?
A: Most clients with personal injury claims prefer to hire CFMR on a “contingency fee” basis. This simply means that our fees are charged as a percentage of what we can recover for you. No recovery – no fee. Some clients prefer to pay on an hourly rate. It is your choice.
Q: How do you deal with expenses of the lawsuit?
A: As your lawyers, CFMR will pay for the expenses (“disbursements”) to carry on with the claim. These can include everything from court filing fees to obtaining medical reports. We then claim those expenses back from ICBC at the conclusion of the lawsuit.
Q: How long will my case take?
A: Every case is different. Fairly simple cases can be resolved in a matter of months but most take about two years and more complicated cases can take longer. The time it takes depends on several things including how serious your injuries are, availability of court time and the schedules of medical specialists and counsel. It is never a good idea to settle too early before the full extent of your injuries and loss is known.
Q: What steps are involved in making an injury claim?
A: Not all cases are the same, but most follow a general pattern. First, we gather information – from you, from witnesses, from ICBC, the police, your employer and from medical practitioners. When appropriate, we start a lawsuit to ensure your rights are protected. After you have recovered enough that we can obtain all the necessary medical opinions, we carefully analyze the facts of your particular case and provide you with our recommendations for settlement. With your approval, we try to negotiate with ICBC to reach a settlement that is satisfactory to you. If we cannot achieve a proper settlement, we are always prepared to present your case in court to ensure you are properly compensated for your injury and other losses.
Q: Will I have to go to court?
A: You are never forced to go to court, but if ICBC is not prepared to pay what a court is likely to award you after a trial, we will recommend that you do so. The choice is always yours.
Q: The accident happened nearly two years ago. The ICBC adjuster has told me that if I don’t settle my case soon, the file will be closed. What is that about?
A: Generally, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the accident. That does not mean the case has to be settled in two years. If your claim is more than 18 months old and you still have not settled it on your own, you should definitely consult a lawyer for advice. The personal injury lawyers at CFMR are happy to meet with you with no charge and no obligation.