Disputing an Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, ICBC, decision after a car accident requires a basic understanding of administrative law as well has a thorough understanding of the civil rules of court- to start. Fear not non-lawyers, I will to use plain language but can’t stress enough how important it is to get legal advice for your own injury claim. Disagreements with ICBC can be resolved without going to court and before expensive delay but knowing what to claim is half the battle.
FAULT FOR THE CAR CRASH- IT’S NOT MY FAULT!
First thing you should know is that most of ICBC’s internal dispute mechanisms are voluntary and are not required by legislative law. This means only the principles of fundamental justice govern the conduct of ICBC when setting up their own internal appeal process. ICBC will not be investigating the case for you or helping you prove that the other driver was negligent.
ICBC is representing the otherdriver and has a duty to the other driver and not to the person making the injury claim. ICBC has a duty to indemnify the other driver if found at fault by the court and any attempt to negotiate with the claimant or lawyer is voluntary, except negotiation at a mediation set down under a Notice to Mediate. ICBC’s finding of fault internally can only really be changed if the Court makes a different ruling, which could take years.
ICBC ACCIDENT INJURY BENEFITS DENIED
ICBC is required to pay mandatory benefits to an insured injury claimant, so appealing an ICBC decision to cut a claimant off accident benefits is quite different. Disputes between ICBC and an insured claimant as to whether an expense is reasonable, for example physical therapy, must be submitted to arbitration. However, if ICBC does not within a reasonable time start the arbitration process, ICBC’s right to arbitration may be considered waived and the Supreme Court of BC has authority to force payment. Personal injury lawyers rarely recommend the use of the arbitration process given the upfront costs and delay.
Most cases in which ICBC refuses to pay injury benefits get settled but may have to first be filed with the Court. If the benefits being claimed are likely to be over $25,000.00 the lawsuit should be filed in the Supreme Court of BC. Take a look at our short video featuring ICBC accident injury benefits.
RECOURSE TO THE COURTS
Ultimately, if you have submitted all relevant medical documentation and addressed ICBC’s concerns but they still deny the claim your only recourse is to file a lawsuit and convince a judge that ICBC is wrong. If you are disputing the finding of fault for the car accident you will have to name to owner and driver you say are responsible for your injury. If it is a question of contested injury benefits then ICBC will have to be sued as the insurer.
As a general rule, despite whether there is a legal prescribed appeal available or not, any “appeal” from an ICBC decision should be done within 30 days or as soon as possible. Appealing an ICBC decision to the Supreme Court of BC will require that a properly drafted Notice of Civil Claim be filed with the approriate Court Registry and that it be filed before the expiry of any limitation period.
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A., LL.B.