Frequently Asked Questions
The answers to many of the questions we are typically asked often are both universal and individual in character, and require some fact-specific knowledge to be answered fully. As you look through Linley Welwood’s website, we do our best to answer the most common questions we are asked in a general way, and look forward to the opportunity to meeting you so that we can better answer your questions.
It's one of the first things we are asked by clients: What is my claim worth?
It's also a question that's almost impossible to answer right away. Before answering that question, your lawyer needs to get to know your situation well, including your injuries and your personal circumstances.
Getting to an answer will require looking at both pecuniary damages (money-based damages such as the cost of a wheelchair) and non-pecuniary damages (for example, pain and suffering). Your claim may include:
- Time off work: After your accident and during your rehabilitation you will almost certainly miss work. If you become disabled, your income loss may be considerable if you are unable to return to the same level of work as you had before — or unable to return at all.
- Medical costs: This includes private or semi-private hospital rooms, prescription drugs and any medical care not covered by MSP.
- Rehabilitation: You may require physiotherapy or other specialized rehabilitative treatment for some time after your accident.
- Counselling and psychiatric care: This could include family counselling, especially if your family suffers because of your accident.
- Cost of housekeeping and family care: Particularly if you are the primary caregiver of young children, or elderly or disabled family members, you may be able to claim babysitting or maid service.
- Personal care: If you are unable to care for yourself and need assistance for daily tasks such as dressing, washing and mobility, you will need to pay a personal assistant.
- Modification for home and vehicle: If you have mobility issues after your accident, the cost of making your home and vehicle wheelchair-accessible or easy to use may be considerable.
ICBC is there to help you when you are hurt. It was created to help injured British Columbians put their lives back together after an accident.
One of the most common questions we get is, "Should I just represent myself? After all ICBC isn't a private insurance company out for profit; it's here for me. Right?"
It's easy to think of ICBC as "your" insurer. However, it's important to understand that ICBC isn't just there for you as an injured person: it's there for all policyholders. And one of the things ICBC has to do is make sure they don't pay out too much to injured individuals, or the system will become more expensive for everyone.
They are not there to simply give you whatever you ask for. They are there to give you what they think you need and balance your needs against the needs of all other policyholders in British Columbia.
If you go up against them yourself, you will be going up against a number of people who are very good at what they do and who see cases like yours every single day. They will not see you as an individual, but as an injured person whose needs have to be balanced against everyone else's needs.
Linley Welwood is there to make sure you are treated as an individual. We know the language used by ICBC too. We know how to speak so that they will listen.
Having A Lawyer In Your Corner
As your lawyer, we not only provide you information and advice, we act as your advocate to get you the best possible result. Our lawyers can provide a number of services that most injured persons cannot provide themselves:
- Familiarity with claims: We know what you are entitled to claim. Travel costs for your relatives to come and see you, housekeeping expenses, the cost of parking at the hospital — we can let you know what's worth asking for and what isn't.
- General knowledge about accident expenses: Many injured people assume that they will recover fully, or that an amount offered should be plenty to cover all of their expenses. We've seen a lot of accidents. We know how and where expenses are likely to pile up and how quickly money can be spent. We also know what kinds of injuries may result in future complications that you may not be aware of, such as chronic pain related to bone injuries.
- A way to explain your injuries and expenses: We can access professionals to help prove your injuries to ICBC, especially injuries such as chronic pain, soft tissue injuries and psychological damage. We can also get accountants who can calculate future losses if you are disabled.
Many clients come to us in distress because although they have been injured and have many expenses, there is "nobody to sue" because the accident was their own fault. They assume that this means that they are out of luck.
This is not true.
In BC, there are two legal claims you can make after an injury: a tort claim against the at-fault driver and what's called a "Part 7" no-fault benefits claim.
Even if you are completely at fault, you are still eligible for Part 7 benefits. Your ICBC coverage will likely include:
- Limited wage loss
- Treatment costs
- Death benefits and funeral expenses for any fatalities of the accident
- Damages to the other driver
- Collision coverage (if you have it) for damage to your own car, as well as costs of towing, storage and salvage disposal
You should be aware that if you claim these benefits for an accident in which you were at fault, your premiums may go up, especially if you have been at fault in three or more accidents in the last three years.
One way you may be able to avoid higher premiums is to repay ICBC. It's very important to talk to a lawyer before claiming or repaying, so that you don't end up losing more than necessary.
If somebody else acquired possession of your car with your consent, or was a member of your household, you may be legally responsible for what happens with the car. That means that your premiums may be affected even if you weren't driving.
Probably the most important thing you can do is keep accurate records — of the accident, your physical and emotional condition right after the accident, your recovery and any expenses incurred by you or your family during the process. Dates and costs are particularly important.
You should also be aware of your actions, online and otherwise. You don't need to be paranoid, but be aware that if you post pictures on Facebook of yourself skiing, they could be used to "prove" that you are not disabled, even if you are only claiming that you are unable to work as you did before.
Your insurance provides benefits that cover a number of expenses, even if the accident is entirely your fault. However, if your accident was caused by somebody else, you can also claim for other losses. A "tort" is a civil wrong done by one person to another. A "tort claim" is based on the idea that if a driver was careless, reckless, or even just made a mistake, and as a result caused another person to suffer injury and damages, that driver must compensate the injured person. In almost all cases, the driver will carry liability insurance with ICBC to meet the claims of the injured person.
It very much depends on your injuries and the facts of the accident. If the events are very straightforward, fault is clear, and your recovery is quick and complete, we may be able to settle fairly quickly, during negotiations with the other side. If there are questions about the accident, if you suffer from more long-term or serious injury, or there are questions about the long-term effects on your life or future, it could take years.
Cases based on certain injuries, such as brain injury, may take a long time to finish simply because it can take the brain years to finish recovering. You should not settle before the full extent of your recovery is clear.
We work on a contingency fee basis with clients who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident or personal injury. Which means you don't pay for the work until your claim is settled. Payment of our fee will come out of the final settlement or judgment. This payment will cover our work as well as all of the expenses of hiring expert witnesses, getting hospital records, hiring accountants to calculate your financial losses — whatever was necessary to make your case.
Unfortunately, the end of a case is the end of a case. You cannot change your mind and ask for more. This is why it's better to wait until you are as recovered as you can be and are sure of what you have lost.
Sometimes insurance companies will argue that if chronic pain, joint problems, a bad back, depression, etc. were there before the accident, they were not caused by the accident and ICBC should not pay for them. Often the reality is that, for example, although you may have suffered a bout of depression before the accident, the accident made it worse and has made you more vulnerable to future episodes. To the extent pre-accident injuries or symptoms have been "aggravated" in this manner, ICBC is responsible to compensate you. We will use expert evidence to argue our point if necessary.
If you have disability benefits at work, your policy should cover this to some degree. In addition, ICBC may pay "total temporary disability benefits" toward your wage loss under its "Part 7" coverage. Canada Pension Plan also has coverage for people who are unable to work. Unfortunately sometimes the application process can be confusing and difficult, and rejections are not uncommon. This can make an already stressful situation even worse. We will look over your insurance plan, CPP and your personal situation. We will help you claim what is due to you and guide you through the process. If you are rejected, we will help you appeal the denial.
Contact Linley Welwood LLP
To go beyond frequently asked questions and get answers about your particular case, call our Abbotsford lawyers at 604-850-6640 or fill out our online form to set up a free consultation.