Frequently, our personal injury lawyers meet with people who have been in a car accident and are starting to feel overwhelmed as they face an ICBC claim. Without professional help and legal expertise, it’s easy to make a mistake that can turn out to be costly and compromise your claim.
Here is a list of the top ten mistakes people make after being injured in an accident:
1. Not Gathering Evidence
When you’ve been in a car accident, it’s important to get as much information as you can at the scene, including:
– Driver’s licence and vehicle insurance information from the other driver
– Photos of the accident scene
– Names and contact information of any witnesses
The more evidence you have, the better able you are to prove your claim. Learn more tips in our article about what to do after you’ve been in a car accident.
2. Not Getting Prompt Medical Treatment
One of the most important things to do immediately after being injured in a car accident is to see a medical doctor. Thankfully, most aches and pains following a car accident clear up within days or weeks without any significant or long-lasting effects.
Unfortunately, some do not. If you’ve been injured in an accident, do not wait to get medical attention. See a doctor right away. They can perform assessments and order tests that will lead to an early diagnosis and the best possible advice for treatment. The earlier you get your treatment, the best chance you have to recover.
3. Not Following Up With Treatment
It is essential to follow up with medical professionals regularly and to do all of their recommended treatments. First and foremost, by following up with recommended treatments, you are giving yourself the best chance to make a full recovery. Second, the law actually requires that you do what is reasonable to minimize your injuries and losses, which will include following through with the recommendations of your doctor. If you do not have a general practitioner we recommend consistently visiting the same walk-in clinic or treatment centre.
One of the other reasons our personal injury lawyers urge our clients to be diligent about this is if you don’t follow through with recommendations, a judge may reduce the amount of money you are entitled to receive as part of your ICBC claim.
4. Exaggerating Injuries
DO NOT EXAGGERATE YOUR INJURIES. While some people certainly might find it tempting to exaggerate the extent of their injuries, it can be devastating to your claim. Consider the following quote from Madam Justice Southin while she sat in the British Columbia Supreme Court:
When a litigant practises to deceive, whether by deliberate falsehood or gross exaggeration, the court has much difficulty in disentangling the truth from the web of deceit and exaggeration. If, in the course of the disentangling of the web, the court casts aside as untrue something that was indeed true, the litigant has only himself or herself to blame …
5. Understating Injuries
DO NOT UNDERSTATE YOUR INJURIES. Just as it’s important to not exaggerate or overstate your injuries, it’s also important to not understate your injuries. If a doctor or treatment provider is not made aware of all of your injuries, he or she will not be able to treat you properly. Likewise, if your lawyer, the insurance company or the judge is not made aware of your injuries, you will not be compensated for them. When you see your doctor or your lawyer, be sure to be as honest and forthcoming as you can be. Tell them everything and let them decide what’s important and what’s not.
6. Showing Inconsistencies on Social Media
Insurance companies have many tools for investigating injury claims. One of those tools is monitoring the various social media accounts of accident victims. If you have claimed that you are no longer able to snowboard because of your injuries, and you then post a picture of you flying down the terrain park at Sun Peaks, this is going to have a significant impact on how much compensation you will receive for your injuries.
While certainly at times there may be perfectly reasonable explanations, insurance companies are very wary of inconsistencies in accident victims’ claims. Be very careful of the words and pictures you post!
7. Changing Your Lifestyle Unnecessarily
Many of our clients ask us if they have to change their lifestyle because of their ICBC claim. They think that because they were injured in an accident, they should stop doing some of their activities. This is not true at all! In many cases, doctors will recommend that you remain as active as possible. Activities should only be avoided because they cause too much pain or because a medical professional has told you to avoid them.
8. Not Keeping Receipts
If you’ve been injured in an accident that was not your fault, you are entitled to be compensated for any expenses that you have incurred in relation to that accident. This can be for treatments (massage therapy, physiotherapy, counseling etc.), medications, heating pads, gym memberships or anything else that is deemed reasonable and necessary. If you don’t keep your receipts, however, you may not be able to prove that you incurred those expenses. So be sure to keep all receipts and hand them in to your lawyer periodically.
9. Settling Too Early
Our personal injury lawyers have seen far too many instances of people settling their claims too early. Sometimes people think that their injuries are not that bad and will resolve soon, or that they really need the money now. But, settling too early can prove very costly.
The problem with settling too soon is that sometimes injuries do not resolve like we think they might, or they may even go on to cause further problems. One of the key factors in the amount of compensation you receive is based on how long the injuries last. If your injuries are ongoing and you settle after six months, your compensation will likely be much less than if you would have waited another six months, or 12 months, or 18 months to settle.
At Gillespie, we advise our clients to hold off on settlement until either their injuries are completely resolved, or until we have been able to obtain enough expert medical evidence to show what the future holds.
10. Not Hiring a Lawyer
Most importantly, if you have been injured in an accident, hire a personal injury lawyer to help you out!
Take the time to ask friends and colleagues about their experience with ICBC claims, and you’re likely to hear each person say they couldn’t have got the same result without personal injury lawyers managing their claim. Learn more in our article about when to call a personal injury lawyer.
Written by Jeff Jakel, partner and personal injury lawyer at Gillespie & Co. LLP.
Since he was young, Jeff Jakel has been concerned with fairness and looking out for others. This, along with his background in kinesiology, made becoming a personal injury lawyer a natural path for him. Since 2005, Jeff has been committed to helping people get the treatment they need as well as fair compensation for their injuries and losses. See Jeff’s Bio.
Are you looking for an experienced legal professional to guide your claim and help you earn the amount you deserve? At Gillespie, our personal injury lawyers offer expertise and results. Contact us to arrange your free consultation.