As a personal injury lawyer in Vancouver since 1995 I have been asked by Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) injury claimants to best articulate the most common ways to obtain compensation from the driver that is responsible for the car accident. In this article I will review some of the top ways that personal injury lawyers in BC, from my own experience, collect compensation from ICBC for victims of personal injury.
Keep in mind that most ICBC injury claimants in BC will have two injury claims arising from the one car accident. In addition to the the fault based claim of negligence against the other driver the claimant usually has a claim for ICBC accident benefits. I am only addressing the at fault ICBC claims in this article but you can always review my other posts about ICBC no fault benefits.
Generally you have two years from the date of the car accident to file your Notice of Civil Claim (NOCC) in the Supreme Court of BC. This limitation period may be varied by events such as advance payments and you should always check with your personal injury lawyer to ensure you know the limitation in your case. Once the personal injury claim has been filed with the court by NOCC the ultimate goal is to recover money for your losses.
Here is a checklist of three main ways that personal injury lawyers collect money for ICBC injury claimants:
1. Out of Court Settlement with ICBC– If your personal injury lawyer does a good job of obtaining the evidence to prove the other driver is at fault and that you suffered injury ICBC will often agree to settle before going to court. In fact, most personal injury cases in my legal practice settle without my client going to court.
Remember that an out of court settlement with ICBC is voluntary and an injury claimant cannot force ICBC to settle an injury claim. Having said that, with our current civil rules, an offer to settle that is made before the filing of a personal injury lawsuit can be used against ICBC later if the claimant goes to court and gets more than the offer.
Making an offer the settle you case without a personal injury lawyer on your side could make settlement of your case more difficult in the long run. If, without knowing the value of your personal injury case, you make an offer and are still unable to settle, your personal injury lawyer may be hampered by your earlier offer. It may be your lawyer’s opinion that your case is worth much more than the offer you made but ICBC may be left with the impression that you are still prepared to accept that amount. Getting an initial free legal consultation can be helpful but without actually hiring your own personal injury lawyer you will be left to make an assessment the strengths and weaknesses of your evidence on your own.
2. Court Award– Less common but still important for cases where the injury claimant and ICBC are just unable to agree on the value or merits of the personal injury case. There are three levels of court in BC: Small Claims Court, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeal. Personal injury cases thought to be worth $25,000 or more should be filed in the Supreme Court of BC. The Supreme Court Civil Rules are superior to the Small Claim Court Rules and allow your personal injury lawyer to better prosecute your car accident case. Also if you are successful in Supreme Court you are entitled to a contribution toward your legal fee.
3. Approval of the Public Trustee– If a car accident injures a person under 19 years of age any out of court settlement with ICBC must be approved by the the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT). The PGT is responsible for ensuring that any personal injury settlement for children in British Columbia is fair and reasonable. The PGT also has the power to review the legal fees of the personal injury lawyer to ensure the fees are in keeping with what is allowed.
There are many other ways of collecting money for personal injuries resulting from car accidents from ICBC. Hit and run, uninsured motorists and under insured motorist are just three examples of unique claims requiring a more complex legal analysis in order to explain the collection process. Get yourself a good personal injury lawyer so you can focus on getting better. Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness