Useful Links for People Injured in Vehicle Accidents
ICBC has the right to request that you see a medical practitioner (doctor), dentist, physiotherapist or chiropractor of their choice for an independent medical examination (or IME) if you are applying for medical benefits from ICBC under your own insurance (Part 7 Benefits) the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation (s. 99). The IME assists the ICBC in deciding what Part 7 benefit to pay. If you fail to attend, ICBC can deny your benefits altogether.
ICBC typically uses a select number of doctors to conduct IMEs and it is not uncommon for their reports to conflict with your family doctor’s report about your injuries. Because of the IME, ICBC sometimes discontinues paying treatment benefits even if your doctor disagrees.
Your cooperation and honesty in disclosing information accurately about your current symptoms and medical history is critical at an IME. The ICBC examiner will have reviewed all your clinical records from treatment providers from before and after your accident, including information on your health history, pre-existing conditions and events that have occurred since your accident. You do not want to refuse to provide information or leave the impression that you are hiding information because then the ICBC doctor will emphasize that you were not cooperative or fully honest about your injuries, which can damage your credibility and affect the way ICBC views your claim. Similarly, be careful not to exaggerate your injury complaints or the impact they have on your physical abilities. ICBC doctors tend to focus on objective signs of injury (broken bones, injuries that show up on X-rays or MRIs) and are unlikely to be independently convinced by subjective complaints from you about your pain or the seriousness of your injuries.
Be aware that the ICBC doctor is trained to assess whether you are giving accurate feedback during your exam. He or she will test to see if you are exaggerating your complaints. When asked, be descriptive about your pain. Stating that something “hurts” is not as helpful as stating what you are feeling. A better description is a shooting pain up your back that starts at one point and ends at another or a clicking in your shoulder when you extend your arm past a certain point or a tightening feeling when you turn your head past a certain point. If you feel pain during the examination, explain whether the pain is mild, moderate or severe, sharp and in a specific spot or aching in a general location that you can identify by pointing.
Injury diagnostic tools such as X-rays, CT or CAT scans, bone scans, MRIs and ultrasounds may be used help determine the nature of the injury you have sustained. Such procedures may be covered by provincial health insurance, but only if your family doctor or a specialist recommends them. Therefore, it is important to see your family doctor regularly and describe your symptoms thoroughly. Do not assume that a symptom felt is not related to your accident – let a healthcare professional evaluate that issue.
Interrogatories are written questions directed to the other party in a legal action which must be answered in writing, under oath. Interrogatories are intended to clarify matters of fact and help to determine in advance what facts will be presented at a potential trial in a case. The answers can be used at trial.
Once a lawsuit has commenced, but before trial, an interim application may be made to the court to ask for an order for the court to decide (or rule on) procedural matters such as aspects regarding how the case should be handled or concerning requests for documents or evidence that the other side has not provided. A court order typically results.
The impact of a motor vehicle accident can cause internal injuries, including injuries to bowels, kidneys, the spleen, liver, lungs, heart or aorta. Fractured ribs are also quite common, causing puncture of the lungs and/or other internal organs.
Internal injuries can be very serious (even fatal), do not always show up right away and should be assessed and treated by a medical professional immediately.
Liability means responsibility or fault for conduct which, in this context, caused an accident. Disputes over liability are common and the assessment of liability is very important if you have been seriously injured in an accident and plan to seek damages against the party you believe caused the accident. Disputes often arise when there are no independent third party witnesses or when both parties have some responsibility for the accident. Liability, including partial liability, can reduce the amount of damages you can claim and can impact your ability to obtain future safe driving discounts.
Limitations periods are time limits placed on your entitlement to make claims based on the notion that no one should be able to “sit on his rights” for an unreasonable amount of time without forfeiting his claims. Time limits arising from the Limitation Act and other motor vehicle legislation, regulations and statutes and from contracts of insurance exist in relation to the application for Part 7 Accident Benefits, suing a municipality, starting a lawsuit against ICBC for denying Accident Benefits or against the driver you think is responsible for your accident.
It is critical to be aware of and abide by the time limits applying to your case as soon as possible after an accident, because if you miss the time limit, you may be denied the right to take certain actions or to claim compensation for your injuries. Obtaining legal advice on your situation early is the best way to protect yourself.
ICBC sometimes refuses to compensate an injured person (including Part 7 Accident Benefits) if the damage to the vehicle you were in is insignificant. Often the case must be taken to trial to obtain compensation because courts are not limited by such policies and preferring to award damages on the basis of credibility and medical evidence. We sometimes take these cases to trial if we think ICBC made a wrong decision; for example, the court may find compensation warranted in a case where the vehicle that hit you has substantial damage even though the vehicle you were in did not have substantial damage.