This past week I found myself watching a super car fail compilation on YouTube. After watching this video I thought of the Vancity Buzz post on all the beautiful cars that have been parked on the UBC campus. Just like in the video (and on the UBC campus) there are a lot of beautiful sports cars. . .and lots of accidents – of all types of cars. Even if you are a conscientious driver, a wary pedestrian, or an alert cyclist, sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid being in a collision.
According to the World Health Organization, between 20 million and 50 million people worldwide are involved in non-fatal car accidents each year. If you are one of these unlucky people, whether it’s in Vancouver or another city, what should you do?
After doing a little bit of research online and scouring some personal injury lawyer websites, I came across an amazing book by Wesley Mussio of Mussio Law Group titled What ICBC Does Not Want You To Know. The title tells it all – it’s a guide written by personal injury lawyers that focus on ICBC claims that tells you how to best handle getting into a car accident. Here are some of the tips that I was able to uncover – keep in mind that some of this is pretty obvious, but it’s best to follow this as closely as possible so that your claim is taken seriously and you are treated fairly.
In the Direct Aftermath of the Accident:
a) Obtain the names, addresses, phone numbers and driver’s license numbers of all the parties involved in the accident. This includes looking at the insurance of each of the vehicles involved to get the details and registered owners of the vehicle (if it is not ICBC, make sure you get the name and information of the company who insures the vehicle).
b) If the other driver involved in the accident admits to fault, ask them if they will allow you to record their admission on your smartphone, including why they were at fault (i.e., they were texting, were not paying attention, etc.). It is common for people to change their mind about fault after an accident so this tactic could dissuade someone from having a malleable memory.
c) If there are witnesses, make sure to ask them what they saw and get their contact information.
d) Take some photos of the accident scene and the vehicle damage and make some notes about how the accident occurred. This will help you recall the event for later.
e) If there is significant damage to your vehicle (over $1000 for cars or $600 for motorcycles), you must report the accident to Vancouver Police within 24 hours.
f) Ideally, report the accident to ICBC within 24 hours. Be as forthright as possible. However, it is important to know that you are talking to a trained insurance adjuster who is recording your call and taking notes. So, anything you say to them can be used against you at a later date, especially if you suffered an injury.
g) If you are concerned about speaking to an adjuster, something regarding a pre-existing injury, or just do not feel comfortable dealing with the situation yourself, I would strongly encourage you to speak with a personal injury lawyer that deals with ICBC claims and car accidents. Many lawyers will give an initial free consultation.
Treating Your Injuries
a) Your general practitioner or Family Doctor is like your injury treatment quarterback. He or she will usually have a very broad medical expertise and will refer you to the best therapists in your circumstances. In addition, the GP acts as a “sounding board” for any accident related injuries. It is very important to see a GP on a regular basis after an accident, as they will document your injuries accurately for insurance purposes. If there is no evidence of injury being caused by the accident in the GP’s clinical records, it is unlikely that ICBC or any other insurance company will compensate you for the loss suffered.
b) Manual therapy and rehabilitation practitioners like Vancouver physiotherapists, chiropractors and registered massage therapists can work wonders for a variety of injuries. However, make sure you are being referred by your GP before undertaking any manual therapy. If you need to find a short-notice appointment, try using Connect the Doc – a Vancouver based startup that lets you book healthcare appointments online, 24/7.
c) Specialists such as orthopaedic or physical and rehabilitation specialists can provide great assistance if you have serious problems which require immediate attention. However, sometimes it is not advisable to see certain specialists after an accident. If, for example, there is a good chance you only have soft tissue injuries, an orthopaedic specialist report may end up hurting you in the long run. If your soft tissue injuries are not in the report from a specialist, you could end up being denied certain necessary treatments such as ongoing physiotherapy or massage. If you are uncertain of what to do in your situation, I highly recommend you contact a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.
d) Non-traditional medicine such a Chinese medicine or acupuncture can have great benefits to injuries, especially injuries such as whiplash which are common car accident injuries. However, it is unlikely that the opinions of these practitioners will hold much legal weight in terms of a claim with ICBC. Therefore, if you believe in the benefits of non-traditional medicine, it is very important to also follow the directions of traditional medicine, such as your GP and any referrals.
If you are concerned or uncertain about your course of action or just cannot be bothered to deal with the claim side of your injuries, again, speak with a lawyer. In most scenarios, legal counsel will not cost you anything upfront, just a percentage of your claim if you are successful. Additionally, sometimes there are complex legal issues surrounding fairly simple accidents and injury fact scenarios. A good lawyer will be able to help you through the potential quagmires and be your sworn advocate throughout the process.
This article was written by Nadeem Kassam, co-founder of Connectthedoc.com. Connect the Doc is an online service that helps Vancouverites find, and book healthcare appointments online, 24/7.