ICBC Injury Claims
All owners of vehicles in B.C. are covered by ICBC, so, If you’ve been injured in a car accident in B.C., you will almost certainly be dealing with ICBC.
After you’ve been involved in an accident, you should report the accident to ICBC within 30 days. This can be done through ICBC’s dial a claim service. If you’re going to miss work or might need treatment for your injuries, you should submit a claim for within 90 days of the date of the accident.
There are two types of ICBC claims. First, there’s “no-fault” insurance, which is provided as part of the insurance contract between the vehicle owner and ICBC. Second, if the accident wasn’t your fault or is only partly your fault, you’ll have a “tort” claim against the driver at fault. These two different types of claims are treated differently and are governed by different rules and different legal principles.
No fault insurance benefits are usually called Part VII benefits, because that’s the part of the Act where the coverage is described. Part VII benefits cover payment for medical treatment and wage loss, but they are limited. For example, many service providers charge the patient a “user fee”, which is not covered as Part VII benefits.
ICBC pays out Part VII benefits while the costs are being incurred but it reviews the claim on a regular basis and payments may be denied. Denial is made on the basis of the insurer’s policies, and the decision may not correspond with the advice of your health care professionals.
The biggest single difference between Part VII benefits and tort claims is that in a tort claim there will be compensation for loss of enjoyment of life or “non-pecuniary” damages. Also, damages in a tort claim, including recovery for the cost of treatment, are assessed on a ‘reasonable” basis, and are not limited to ICBC rates. (User fees for the treatment of accident injuries are usually recovered at this point). Another major difference is that ICBC will generally not pay out tort claim damages until final settlement or a judgment in a court.
In most tort claims the largest claim will be for loss of enjoyment of life. Damages may also be claimed for the cost of past and future treatment, and past and future income loss. For more information, see the article ICBC Tort Claims.
Finally, whether it a tort claim or Part VII claim, you need to watch for “limitation dates”. Rules governing limitation dates can be complicated, and I highly recommend you consult a lawyer before the first year anniversary of the accident. After a limitation date has passed, the claim is barred, regardless of merit.
This article is for general information only, and should not be relied on as legal advice in any particular case. Consult a lawyer for advice on your case.