If you have been involved in a car accident, ICBC should be among the first numbers you call. After all, it’s the law. You will need to report the damage and they need to create a file to gather as much information as possible right away. However, just because you are in the process of dealing with BC’s largest insurance company doesn’t mean you have to accept whatever offer they happen to throw your way.
ICBC will pay you the smallest possible amount for you to go away quietly. If you bring in a legal team, that means they have to use resources to do the same. It costs them money. By dissuading you from a proper payout, they are able to keep more money at the ready for other (legally represented) cases.
Often, ICBC will propose a much lower settlement than you may be entitled to. Far too many people take this initial payout. As the law is complex, and often a bit scary, a lot of times, people won’t follow up with a law firm for proper representation… but you should! A lawyer in a personal injury will usually work on “contingency pay” -meaning they only get paid if you do. You are both on the same team 100%. The more they win for you, the more they win as well.
Before mentioning anything about your injuries to ICBC, be sure to talk to a personal injury lawyer about your case first. If you are in the tri-cities, talk to DBM, we promise, we are the opposite of scary!
A quick payout from ICBC may be a ‘bird in the hand’ scenario for some, but it can be a shortsighted solution if there are long-term effects that don’t happen right away. For instance, some soft tissue injuries (like back pain) materialize weeks, and sometimes months after an accident. Psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often doesn’t manifest until later on, only to cause massive problems to your quality of life down the road. Chronic pain is another example, where symptoms persist, despite all examples of physical injury being gone.
In the event of late-onset injuries, it is better to have a legal team onboard to document and represent your claim long-term, so that you are not inadequately compensated too soon.
After an accident, all ICBC will know about you is filled out in black and white on a form in front of them. They don’t know and can’t know your whole story. The information they acquire, especially in the first few months after an accident, will not tell them how the accident has affected your life. Maybe you can’t do certain hobbies that you used to, or your injuries have affected your relationships, or you can no longer pursue a career that you had planned to. All of those can affect your claim. It takes time for you to determine the long-term consequences and get what you deserve.
A lot of people find haggling, bartering and bargaining unpleasant. It’s full of conflict, hurt feelings and frankly, it can be distasteful. Lawyers, on the other hand, negotiate for a living. And ICBC has an army of them.
ICBC may be excellent at negotiating a lower settlement against someone less familiar with the courtroom, but at DBM, our personal injury lawyers go to bat for our clients, and we never give up. We are tenacious and more often than not, victorious, because we are experts at the game. And that game is negotiations.
The first, and most important rule of negotiations is: never, ever, take the first offer.
DBM is the Tri-Cities #1 full service law firm with experienced lawyers in almost all fields of specialization, including personal injury law.