After the Accident: the first 30-90 days
Within 30 Days of the Accident:
Seek Medical Attention and Document the Injuries
Medical attention immediately after the accident is necessary for a success personal injury case. If you did not attend the hospital or your doctor at the time of the accident, a medical professional’s assessment of your injuries is critical to obtain as soon as possible thereafter.
List ALL your symptoms and complaints from the accident to your doctor, including physical issues (pain, discomfort, limited mobility) or mental ones (flashbacks, fear and anxiety, insomnia, depression) at each visit to ensure that your injuries are accurately recorded in the part of your accident record that focuses on clinical notes. (See Clinical Records for more information.) Do not downplay or exaggerate the symptoms.
Make sure the doctor records all injuries reported in your clinical records, as ICBC will obtain and review a copy. If your doctor is not recording what you tell him or her, do not be afraid to explain why you want your symptoms recorded. If a doctor continues to rush you or skip writing down what you say, contact us for assistance.
If your doctor failed to record something on a particular office visit, then ICBC may argue that you must have been well. ICBC adjusters are more likely to accept your doctor’s description of your condition as objective medical evidence compared to what you may eventually tell their legal counsel.
Follow the advice of your doctors or treatment providers. You have a positive obligation to try to lessen the damages. If you fail to follow the recommended treatment, ICBC may claim that your damages should be reduced because of “failure to mitigate” the damages. The rationale is that your recovery would have been quicker and more complete if you followed the treatment plan.
Continue to see your doctor for follow up visits for as long as you continue to have symptoms from your injuries. The frequency of visits will depend on the injuries sustained and may require referrals to specialists. If you discontinue seeing a doctor while you are still experiencing problems from your accident, ICBC will likely take the position that you must have recovered from your injuries - or that they were so minor that seeing your doctor was no longer necessary.
Obtain Legal Advice and Report the Accident to ICBC
Legal advice is critical as soon as possible after the accident. Contact us at 1-855-852-5100 so that:
We can provide you with legal advice specific to your case before you contact ICBC. The following are general recommendations:
We can advise whether to provide a written statement to ICBC setting out the circumstances of your accident and your injuries;
We can complete Part 7 Accident Benefit forms and any necessary statutory declaration forms that may be required in situations where the other driver is unknown, unidentified, or uninsured;
We can send (by registered mail) or hand deliver the required documentation to the nearest ICBC claims centre within the mandatory time limits;
We can handle these aspects for you once you retain us to represent you.
Gather and Organize Information and Evidence
Collect and maintain all documents and physical evidence related to the accident, including:
Driver’s licence and vehicle registration papers;
Correspondence with ICBC:
Non-ICBC insurance documents:
Employment information and documents
Any documents showing projected wage rates (e.g., union collective agreements may have information about your anticipated future pay rate, information on seniority and access to benefits);
Medical expenses (all receipts from prescriptions and treatment):
Photographs and diagrams:
Physical evidence from the accident:
If you have questions or concerns, contact us at Bronson Jones & Company LLP. Our car accident lawyers at our 2 Vancouver offices and 11 additional offices are available to help 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Call our toll-free number now at 1-855-852-5100.
Be aware that you have an obligation to try to mitigate your damages by making sure that you follow the treatment advice of your doctors or treatment providers. It is not uncommon for ICBC to argue that your damages should be reduced because you did not follow recommended treatment. The argument goes that had you done so you would have recovered faster and more completely and therefore your damage award should be reduced for this "failure to mitigate."
Recording your recovery progress: Use a daily journal to record the dates of your visit, who you saw, why you saw them and any treatment, instructions, or prescriptions you were given. Make sure to tell your doctor about ALL your symptoms, whether they are physical (pain, limited mobility, discomfort) or mental (flashbacks, anxiety, fear, depression, insomnia) at every visit. The reason you do this is so that your injuries are properly recorded in their clinical notes which form part of the clinical record of your accident. See Clinical Records for more information. At some point, your family doctor will be required to provide a medical legal report that includes your treatment history, the complaints you made at each visit, a diagnosis of your injuries and an opinion on any long-term effects your injuries may have on your life.
For more information on journalling, see Recovery Phase: Day to Day.
Your clinical records will be provided to the ICBC adjuster and ICBC defense lawyers will carefully review them for:
Inconsistencies and differences from your original description that can be used to damage your credibility;
Post-accident events that might explain your complaints;
Pre-existing conditions and injuries;
All of which may be argued to reduce your claim.
The recovery period, even for minor injuries, can be lengthy, and it is not advisable to consider settlement offers while you are still in the process of recovering from your injuries. At a minimum, we recommend that you DO NOT entertain any settlement offers from ICBC until you and your doctor agree that you have recovered.
Other Health Care and Rehabilitation Specialists: If you see any other doctor or healthcare professional (e.g., physiotherapist, chiropractor, registered massage therapist) tell us immediately and give their contact information to the paralegal assigned to your case. As with your family doctor, record the dates of your visits, who you saw, why you saw them and any treatment, instructions, or prescriptions you were given in your daily journal.