The Recovery Phase
Ongoing Medical Care
If you have not already done so, visit your family physician to inform him or her of each symptom (mental, physical and emotional) from the accident and to ensure all of your injuries are recorded and updated in your medical record. Continue to attend regular and specialist appointments that are recommended to you.
Maintain Good Communication with Medical Treatment Providers
Good communication with your doctor can help you and assist us in the preparation of your case. Your doctor will be required to provide a medical legal report that includes your treatment history, complaints made at each visit, diagnoses of your injuries and opinions on any long-term effects of your injuries.
Your clinical records will be provided to the ICBC adjuster and then the ICBC defense lawyers will carefully review them for:
Inconsistencies and differences from your original description (anything that may be used to damage your credibility);
Post-accident events that might explain your complaints; and
Pre-existing conditions and injuries.
Any and all of the above may be argued to reduce your claim.
Even if the injuries are minor, it is not advisable to consider settlement offers while you are still in the process of recovering from your injuries as the recovery period could be lengthy. Our firm recommends that you DO NOT consider any settlement offers from ICBC until you and your doctor agree that you have recovered.
Minimize Your Online Presence during the Recovery Progress
If you participate in social networking such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a personal blog, be aware that ICBC has used information from social media to attack the credibility of victims and their claims about the severity of injuries. The laws regarding privacy with respect to social networking sites are still developing but we strongly recommend that you limit your online presence as much as possible by holding off from posting until your case has been resolved.
Keep a Private Daily Journal
Use a confidential daily journal to record the dates of medical treatments, who you saw, why and the outcome. Include information about any treatment, prescriptions you were given, and other instructions. The medical record notebook should have information containing:
Medical appointment dates, times, location, purpose and the name of health care professional seen, including physiotherapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists;
The nature of your injuries;
Daily symptoms and improvement (record degree/type/length of pain and time of day);
Any medical opinions, diagnosis, instructions, advice, treatment and/or therapy, surgery planned or undertaken, including the name of the medical practitioner, and the extent you were able to follow recommendations;
Any medication taken (including the dosage and frequency), who prescribed them, what they are for and how long you took them;
The length of time you depended on medical equipment or devices (e.g., oxygen machine, intravenous, wheelchair, crutches, ultrasound, neck brace, crutches, wheelchair);
How the injuries affect your normal routine, including your ability to independently dress without pain, bathe and cook for yourself, participate in the recreational and sports/fitness programs that you took part in before becoming injured; and
How your injuries impact your mood, personality and personal relationships with your family and friends.
In describing your injuries, it is important to be specific about the tasks impeded by the accident. For example, if you have back or neck pain or headaches, record the time and date they occur, the degree of pain (e.g., mild, moderate or severe), the type of pain (e.g., throbbing, shooting, aching), whether certain activity triggers it, worsens it or makes it stop and how long the pain lasts. If there are tasks you cannot perform that you were previously able to, then being specific is best. Instead of writing “I can’t do housework anymore,” a better description is: “I’m not able to vacuum my house as well as I used to because I get a strong shooting pain up my back when I lift/push a vacuum cleaner around.” Or, “I won’t lift my two year old now because my shoulder aches as soon as I lift more than 10 lbs.” Also, be careful in how you use the word “can’t” as it could be misconstrued; “can’t” is an appropriate description only if the activity is physically impossible.
Pay close attention to the opinions of medical professionals and your improvements at each visit. Your personal injury case may not be resolved for months or even years, but you may have to rely on this record if asked to testify in court. Keep this journal confidential, sharing it only with your lawyer.
Witness statements from friends, neighbours, coworkers and others you regularly contact are useful to describe (in their own words) how they perceive your life has changed due to the accident. For example, your neighbour might be able to verify that you are not able to shovel the snow anymore. Your friend might tell how you do not snowboard anymore or don’t engage in some other type of hobby. It is better that these witnesses are not your relatives. Record the name, address and phone number of each contact for future reference.
It is important to remember that your daily journal may have to be provided in its entirety to ICBC and their Defense Counsel. If the matter goes to trial, your journal could be used as evidence in Court. Therefore, we encourage you as you write your journal to be sure to reflect on how any entries such as derogatory comments about any physicians or participants in your treatments, or any negative comments about other individuals, may be interpreted poorly by other readers. It is often best to avoid entries of those types altogether.
Submit Your Hospital and Medical Bills
If you have coverage through an insurer other than ICBC for medical expenses from your workplace or private insurance, you must submit those expenses to that medical insurer for payment. We will submit any unpaid balance to ICBC under Part 7 of the regulations. Typical carriers would include Blue Cross, Great West Life, Manulife, Sun Life, etc.
Keep in Touch with Us During the Recovery Progress
If you are ticketed, charged or arrested in connection with your accident, call us immediately. If there is a coroner’s inquest, call us so we can advise you.
If there is a sudden improvement or deterioration in your condition or change in your address or telephone numbers, be sure to notify us immediately.
If you need to speak with the lawyer handling your case, call for an appointment so we can ensure that the lawyer handling your case is available to meet with you.
Otherwise, keep us informed at least every six weeks about medical appointments and surgery dates, including appointments with health care and rehabilitation specialists (e.g., chiropractor, physiotherapist, registered massage therapist) and provide the medical contact’s information to the paralegal assigned to your case.
We will follow up with you for updates on your status, keep you informed about what is happening with your claim and when there are decisions you need to make.
Be Cognisant of the Two Year Limit to File a Lawsuit
You have a two year limit from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You also have a two year limitation period to file a law suit against ICBC if they refuse to provide or stop providing accident benefits.
It is prudent to begin your lawsuit early to preserve your rights, encourage productive and reasonable settlement negotiations and to keep open the option of going to trial. A settlement can be reached at any time prior to a trial but you cannot rely on getting a settlement to produce a satisfactory outcome in all cases, so we manage your case as if it will end up in court.
Contact Us Today
At Bronson Jones & Company LLP, our personal injury lawyers are located in our two Vancouver locations and at 11 additional offices. We can help you obtain needed benefits and help you with a successful lawsuit for damages. Call us now toll-free at 1-855-852-5100. We are available to answer your call 24 hours/day, seven days/week.