If you were injured in a car accident, how do you make sure your settlement will protect you and your family well into the future?
There is no question, car accidents are traumatic. This is especially true if you sustain a significant injury. There are the physical effects, the emotional upset, the possible financial worries, the family obligations and more.
All these factors can sometimes make you want to get a settlement from ICBC as quickly as possible. At DBM, we believe it is extremely important you don’t accept an offer without fully understanding the effect the accident has had on your life.
You need to know the extent of your injuries, how long the effects may last, and if there is a long or permanent need for ongoing treatment or care.
Here are 5 things you need to know to help ensure your settlement protects your future:
- It is vitally important you realize that generally, after you accept an ICBC settlement and sign a release, the deal is done, and there is no going back. This is why you need to make sure you fully understand the long-term consequences of your injury.
Whether you hire a lawyer (we highly recommend you do) or not, go over the settlement offer very carefully and, if anything does not make sense or makes you uncomfortable, do not sign.
- You have up to two years to settle with ICBC before starting a lawsuit, so take the time to get all the facts and figures about your injury from your physicians and other health care providers.
It’s essential you think long-term and avoid pressure to accept an offer with the thought of an immediate payout. A good personal injury lawyer can be a huge asset in making sure you receive a fair settlement which takes into account your needs now and into the future.
- Never admit fault. From the time of the accident, all the way through the claims process, do not accept blame. It is up to ICBC to determine who was at fault in the accident. If you accept any responsibility, this will be used against you and may have serious impact on your claim.
This is not being deceitful. In an accident, you can only be sure of your involvement and speak to facts. Fault is determined by applying the facts to the appropriate legal test. You have no idea what was going on in any other driver’s, pedestrian’s or biker’s situation that could have caused the accident. You may not fully understand the rules of the road or certain provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act. That’s what lawyers, adjusters and investigators do. Let them do their jobs.
- Collect all pertinent information from your doctors, physiotherapists, and any other health care providers. How long will you need their services? Months? Years? Will you need to modify your home to accommodate your post-accident condition? Will you need to adapt your home for a wheelchair? Will you need a chair lift?
How long will you be off work? What are the financial losses for expenses and reduced employment? Your settlement is an attempt to make you whole again and allow you to live as full a life as possible. So take the time to get it right.
- If you do hire a lawyer, make absolutely sure you work together to establish what offer is acceptable and what offer is not. If you are unsure, make certain that your lawyer does not accept any offer on your behalf without specific instructions from you.
As we started out by saying, accidents can be traumatic. We cannot stress enough that you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer specializing in car accidents and negotiating with ICBC. ICBC is fighting to protect their bottom line. Hire someone to be in your corner and fight to ensure you receive a fair settlement.