• Frequently Asked Questions

Vernon Accident Lawyer

FOR CRASHES THAT HAPPENED BEFORE APRIL 1, 2019, it is not easy to obtain a settlement without a trial.  There have been changes to what you can claim and how you can prove your injuries.  We can help!  Call us to explain your rights and help you get compensation.

FOR CRASHES  THAT HAPPENED AFTER APRIL 1, 2019, there are big changes that reduce compensation:

  1. Pain and suffering for most injury claims is a maximum of $5,500.00, and most people will get less;
  2. This applies to most injuries from whiplash to PTSD to concussion;
  3. You must actively seek a diagnosis and treatment right away after the crash, or your claim could be limited;
  4. There are new limits on how much can be paid for past and future treatments; and
  5. Most disputes cannot be taken to Court.  They have to be decided by a tribunal called the CRT.

You are still allowed to hire a lawyer under the new system, but since lawyers work on a contingency (percent), they may not be willing to accept these files.  If you are in doubt, call us.

ALSO NOTE THE DEDUCTIONS FOR CRASHES THAT HAPPEN AFTER MAY 17, 2018, whether capped or not –  ICBC can now make a deduction from your settlement if you haven’t applied for and used your own extended health and disability benefits, as well as EI and other benefits.   Also, ICBC now will not repay your extended benefits on settlement.  This may leave  you having to repay your extended benefits provider, even if your settlement does not include payment for these benefits by ICBC.

SOME GOOD NEWS FOR CRASH VICTIMS:

  1. For crashes after April 1, 2019, injuries that are obviously very serious (fractures and totally disabling injures) are not capped.  Please call us right away if you have this type of injury;
  2. For crashes after April 1, 2019, the maximum amount that ICBC pays to people who can’t work and have no other wage loss benefits, has increased from $300/week to $740/week;
  3. Whether the crash was before or after April 1, 2019, ICBC will pay for more types of treatment up-front.  You may receive either 12 or 25 pre-approved sessions with a massage therapist, physiotherapist, chiropractor or other helper.   ICBC will also pay the full cost, so you no longer have to pay expensive “user fees”; and
  4. While there is a $5500.00 cap on pain and suffering for crashes after April 1, 2019, you can still claim for wage loss and some other expenses on top.

REMEMBER, crashes before April 1, 2019 are not capped!  Call us so we can help you.

In BC, if you were injured in a car accident, and it was the fault of a motorist, you have the right to make a claim against that motorist’s insurance company for the damages you suffered.  Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, drivers and passengers all have the right to make a claim, so long as they were not negligent themselves.  This is called a “tort” damages claim.  The claim is usually against ICBC (because ICBC insures most vehicles in BC.)

If you were partially at-fault, your claim is reduced.  So, if you were  50% at fault, your claim will be reduced by 50%.  ICBC makes an internal determination of fault when they decide who has to pay the deductible, but it is the Court’s determination that matters.  It is a good idea to consult a lawyer if you disagree with ICBC’s determination of fault.

There are also some ICBC benefits available to everyone in a crash with a BC vehicle, regardless of fault. These are called “no fault” or Part 7 benefits.  There are partial payments towards treatment such as massage and physiotherapy.  For people who are unable to work due to crash injuries, Temporary Total Disability benefits (TTDs) may be available up to $300.00/week.  You often must also apply for medical employment insurance benefits.

However, there are some exceptions.  For instance, if you or the other person were a “worker” within the meaning of Worksafe BC legislation, this can limit your ICBC claim.   Car accidents caused by a hit and run, an uninsured or stolen vehicle, an out of province motorist, or car accidents that occur outside of BC, are unusual situations requiring specific legal advice.

For adults in BC, there is a limitation period of two years for motor vehicle claims:  you must start a lawsuit if the claim has not settled.

BIG CHANGES TO ICBC AS OF APRIL 1, 2019:   For crashes occuring on or after April 1, 2019, new rules apply.  Fault still determines whether you are entitled to make a claim for tort damages, but the amount of money you can claim for, will be significantly reduced for most people.  Also, there are new rules for the “no-fault” benefits.  Please see this link.

Your can find our fee structure by clicking here.

For all claims, both before and after April 1, 2019, you are allowed to hire a lawyer.

The lawyer is paid as a percent of the eventual settlement or judgment, so you do not need to have money to hire a lawyer.

You are allowed to deal with ICBC yourself without a lawyer.  However, many people hire a lawyer because we:

  1. take over all dealings with ICBC, so you can reduce stress and concentrate on your recovery
  2. assist with forms and help you get wage replacement and treatment
  3. advise you on your rights and what steps to take to protect your claim
  4. can send you to medical experts to assess your injuries over time and make treatment recommendations.  We carry the cost and the reports are also used to help prove your claim
  5. help you decide when you are ready to settle, and what your claim is worth
  6. negotiate with ICBC and its lawyers for a fair settlement for you, or take the case to trial if necessary.

There are two parts to an ICBC claim:  the “tort” claim and the “Part 7” claim.

The “Part 7” claim is what you experience first when you contact ICBC seeking treatment or wage replacement.   Benefits are available regardless of who’s at fault in the crash.

Sometimes ICBC requires a doctor’s note, while other times the adjuster approves you to go to certain kinds of treatment without one.

Where ICBC agrees to pay for physiotherapy or massage treatment under Part 7, payment is usually partial, and you must pay the “user fee” portion.   This can be claimed back on your tort settlement.   Some physiotherapists direct-bill ICBC for the portion ICBC pays, then you pay them the user fee.  Massage therapists generally do not direct-bill ICBC, so you must pay the whole amount up-front, and submit your receipts afterwards to ICBC for partial reimbursement.

ICBC repays you for prescription receipts in full, so long as the medication was medically required by the crash.  Chiropractors may be paid by ICBC directly within the first 12 weeks after the crash under a special program.

Wage replacement benefits for persons who cannot work due to injury, may be paid up to a maximum of $300.00 per week, but you may be required to first apply for medical employment insurance benefits and short or long term disability through your work before the ICBC benefits are available.

There are also some other benefits for homemaking help and other expenses.

For crashes on or after May 17, 2018, you may be asked to use your own extended health benefits before ICBC will pay for treatment under Part 7.

For crashes from April 1, 2019 on, there are big changes to Part 7 Benefits. 

For the “tort” part of the claim, see this link.

For ICBC claims with crashes before April 1, 2019, and for all other personal injury claims, a settlement is meant to compensate for the effects of the injuries on the injured person’s life.  Because the full effects are often not known immediately, it is difficult to place a number value on the claim until the injured person has been fully evaluated and has received some treatment and tried to return to work, so that the future can be predicted.

Numbers are then put under each of the main “heads” of tort damages:

  1. Pain and suffering, which sometimes includes a loss of housekeeping ability
  2. Past wage loss due to missed work
  3. Future economic loss expected because of work you can’t do in future
  4. Special damages, which are out-of-pocket expenses like user fees
  5. Cost of future care, if you need ongoing treatment after settlement
  6. “In Trust”, for extraordinary care given by family and friends

The total amount is your “settlement”.

How does ICBC know what numbers to put?  Some of it is straightforward, such as expenses that you can prove with receipts, or confirmation from your employer about missed shifts at work.  But other amounts are more debatable and may require evidence such as medical or economic expert reports, or witnesses, to prove.

It is important not to settle too early, because of stress or financial need.  Settlements are final and if you settle too early, it may not be enough to sustain you, particularly if your injuries last longer than you expected.

How does your lawyer know what numbers to recommend?  Past decisions by Courts are known as “case law”.   An experienced injury lawyer is knowledgeable about the case law and can compare your facts to past cases.   The lawyer can give you a recommended range for settlement, and will make offers to ICBC on your behalf in light of what a Court would probably do.

When should you settle?   You need to be sufficiently recovered, or sufficiently stable, for the future to be predictable so that we can quantify it.  Also, you need your evidence in place in order to make the best case.  The lawyer’s role is to prepare your evidence and present the arguments.    It is a negotiation.  If ultimately the two sides cannot agree, a Court will decide and make an award.  However, very often settlements are reached without the need for a trial.

For crashes from April 1, 2019 on, ICBC is making big changes to settlements.   ICBC is “capping” (limiting) pain and suffering to $5,500.00 for many claims, and changing the rules for other heads of damages also.  Please see this link.

Yes, we accept clients throughout BC.  You can hire us without coming to our office in Vernon, BC.   We can travel to meet with clients, or communicate by phone and Skype.

Yes!  We accept a variety of claims including the following:

  1. Motor vehicle accidents where the offending vehicle is not insured by ICBC.   These include Canada Post vehicles, RCMP, Alberta insurers,  other provinces’ insurance companies, and USA insurers;
  2. Personal injuries arising from negligent acts;
  3. Slip and fall;
  4. Some other claims (please ask us).

We don’t handle:

  1. Worksafe BC claims or appeals;
  2. Small claims court matters; or
  3. Lawsuits against disability insurers or extended health care providers.

We accept all types of accidents involving motor vehicles, including bicycle accidents, car accidents, bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian and crosswalk accidents.  We also handle all types of injuries, including whiplash and soft tissue injuries to the neck, back, arms and shoulders, chronic pain, brain injury, fibromyalgia, headache, fractures, orthopedic, disc and spinal injuries.  Psychological injuries are also part of car accidents and include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.

We are presently accepting Wills Variation applications and Committeeships.  We will soon expand the range of cases that we accept, so check back soon!

Not presently, but we will soon be offering estate planning services including wills preparation, power of attorney, health care directives, probate and estate administration.   Check back soon!

Vernon Accident Lawyer
© 2019 Martin Law Corporation All Rights Reserved | Powered By