Skip To Navigation Skip To Content

Frequently Asked Questions

Assessment of Fault

Is ICBC’s determination of liability (or fault) final? 

No. The courts have the final authority on determination of fault. If you disagree with ICBC’s allocation of fault, you have the right to fight it.

The crash was partly my fault. How does that impact my claim?

When you are partially at fault, your overall claim will be reduced to reflect the portion that was your fault (for example – 20% at fault). Partial fault allocation does not prevent you from pursuing a claim, it will only reduce the overall value of your claim.

I was uninsured, had no driver’s license and was intoxicated. Do I have a claim?

If the crash was caused by the negligence of another driver, you may still have a claim. Violating several laws does not forfeit you from being compensated for your losses when they are caused by another party.

Claim Valuation

What is “pain and suffering” compensation and what is it for?

Pain and suffering compensation is a financial award for the loss of quality of life that an injury may have caused you. If an injury prevents you from enjoying an activity that you formerly enjoyed, this is recognized through “pain and suffering” financial compensation.

There was very little damage to my car – does that impact the value of my claim?

Absolutely not. ICBC might try to disqualify your claim using their ‘Low Velocity Impact Policy,’ but they are incorrect in doing so. Car crash claims are based on injuries and cannot be ruled out by a the amount of damage or the speed of impact. For example, soft-tissue injuries often occur at very low collision speeds.

I took very little time off work. Do I still have a claim?

Yes – if you incurred injuries caused by another driver, you still have a claim. Income losses only represent a portion of the valuation of a car crash claim.

What is my claim worth?

Car crash valuations are impacted by several factors including income loss, pain and suffering, and your commitment to pursue recovery.

Estimating the true value of a claim can be complicated, but a rule of thumb is that your claim is worth significantly more than what ICBC offers you before you have retained a lawyer (even after their 4th offer.) After paying legal fees, our clients never receive less compensation than they would have have negotiated on their own.

How does my life expectancy (how long I am likely to live) impact on the value of my claim?

Life expectancy plays a large role in determining claim value. This is because of the impact on potential future earnings. If a twenty-year-old and a sixty-year-old both incur an injury that prevents them from working, the claim for the twenty year old will be larger. This is because the twenty-year-old has lost their ability to earn income for a longer period of time.

If I now need help performing housekeeping chores, am I entitled to compensation even if I don’t pay for that help?

Yes. In certain cases, it is possible to be financially compensated for housekeeping chores that you are no longer able to perform. Read more here:

Working Through An ICBC Claim

When is the right time to settle my claim?

When you are injured, the recovery process can take several years. It is not advised to settle a personal injury claim until your are well into the recovery stage of your injuries and therefore able to estimate the lifelong impact of your injury. In order to receive fair compensation, it often takes several years.

What are the basic steps or stages of an ICBC claim?

Recovery is the most important step in your personal injury claim. For a detailed list of what to expect, we invite you to read this article outlining the process:

What is an Examination for Discovery?

An Examination for Discovery is a formal interview by the lawyer of the insurance company. You are asked questions, similar to in an interview, and your answers go on official record. There are no wrong answers as long as you are being truthful.

What should I do at the scene of a crash

Preserve the evidence. It is important to document as much information as you can by taking pictures, getting witness details and by exchanging insurance information. Talking to a lawyer before you talk to ICBC is the best way to ensure that you are treated fairly, and are given accurate information about your legal rights.

What are the consequences of a “formal offer”?

A “formal offer” is an official offer made by the insurance company. The car crash victim has the option of accepting the offer, or taking the insurance company to court. If the decision made by the courts is an amount higher than the formal offer, the insurance company pays legal costs. On the contrary, if the formal offer amount is less than the amount determined during a trial, the car crash victims is responsible for legal costs. Formal offers are used to deter too many cases from going to court.

What do I need to keep track of?

Personal injury claims often take several years to settle, so it is important to document your evidence instead of relying your memory. These articles help explain how vigilantly you should be documenting the evidence of your injuries:

What is a limitation period?

Lawsuits have an “expiration” date for how long you have to file them. The limitation period depends on the type of lawsuit and the age of the person involved, but for personal injury claims, the limitation is generally two years.

Why does it feel like I am the one on trial?

The insurance company lawyers are tasked with challenging your personal injury claim and paying out as little financial compensation as possible. This can get personal when they scour through the details of your medical records to find inconsistencies that may reduce your claim. Your best defence is to be honest and open with your lawyer.

Can ICBC force me to see a specialist that they have hired?

If you refuse to accept a medical examination, it will be documented and used against your case. While you reserve the right to refusal, denying a medical examination will reduce your likelihood of achieving fair compensation.

You might feel uncomfortable visiting a specialist hired by ICBC because the specialist has essentially been hired to discredit your injury claims. It is important to go into what is called a Defence Medical Examination (DME) prepared:

What is a mediation when dealing with an ICBC claim?

A mediation is an alternative to going to court. The two opposing sides sit down with a unbiased mediator who assists in achieving a fair settlement. This is a great alternative to the costly and stressful decision to go to court.

How important are my doctors’ and therapists’ clinical notations?

Your medical records are incredibly important because your medical team is your biggest advocate. Not only are their notations essential for documenting your injuries, but they are necessary for documenting your recovery.

Often patients do not feel the need to visit their doctors as their injuries recover. However, it is important to keep your medical team informed all throughout your recovery so that they can make informed treatment recommendations and provide educated opinions when requested from the insurance company.

Do I have to let ICBC see my medical records?

Yes. Your complete medical history is required when making a personal injury claim.

Honesty & Your ICBC Claim

Do I have to tell the truth if it doesn’t seem relevant to my injury claim? 

Yes, you must tell the truth…in personal injury claims, your credibility is everything. Usually the primary source of evidence for any pain that you experience comes from your testimony. If your credibility is lost, so is your claim because you no longer have your primary source of evidence.

It is essential that you are completely honest with your lawyer and your medical team.

Loss of Income

When should I return to work?

Your doctor will provide guidance for when you can return to work. Upon your return, it is important that you are honest – you have to give an honest try at attempting your work, and you have to be able to admit when it is too much for you to handle. Here are some guidelines for how to handle returning to work:

I am self-employed. How do I prove my lost income?

It can take a lot of effort to prove your lost income when you are self-employed. Proper steps and pre-emptive action are required to document evidence proving that you are losing out on jobs or contracts due to your injuries.

If you are self-employed, we recommend reading our detailed guide for achieving fair compensation:

Pursuing Recovery

Do I have to go to all of those treatments?

In order to receive fair compensation for your personal injury claim, you need to pursue all medically recommended treatments. Our clients often find the number of appointments required difficult to fit into their daily lives, however, it is crucial that you find a way to make it work. Committing to your recovery is the first step to achieving fair financial compensation.

Should I be accessing my own extended medical benefits?

Yes, you should pursue any extended medical benefits that you have in addition to any coverage that ICBC will provide.

Should I see a chiropractor who has entered into a lump sum deal with ICBC?

No. Chiropractors who have entered into a lump sum deal with ICBC have a conflict of interest with their patients and ICBC. If your chiropractor has entered into a lump sum deal with ICBC, they are required to report directly to ICBC and they are financially incentivized to perform less treatment than may be medically necessary for your case. Read more here:

What if I cannot afford care?

Personal injury claims create significant financial burdens because the upfront treatment expenses are not compensated until years later when the claim is settled. This cannot be used as an excuse for skipping recommended treatments, and doing so will result in a settlement that is less than fair.

It is important to demonstrate your commitment to your recovery by attending all recommended medical treatments. This might mean borrowing from your savings, friends, family or line of credit. Affording care is a common issue for most personal injury victims, and your lawyer will be able to help ensure that you get access to credit for treatment.

Documenting My Case

How do I document my car crash injuries? 

There are two primary ways to document your case. The first is to seek the medical advice of your doctor, who will commit your injuries to your medical record. The second way is to create an injury journal that documents the symptoms and progression of your injuries on a daily or weekly basis. 

It might seem like you are able to remember the evidence of your injuries, but personal injury cases often take years to settle. In order to achieve fair compensation, it is important to record as much information as possible to verify your claim.

Why should I hire a lawyer? (financial aspect)

From a financial standpoint, hiring a lawyer is effectively free. Net of our fees, our clients never receive a settlement that is lower than they would have received from negotiating with ICBC on their own. Our legal fees are only paid when a case has settled, so there is no out-of-pocket legal expense. 

Lawyers also help ease the financial strain of attending all of the medical appointments required to recover from your injury. Many clients struggle to pay for the ongoing chiropractor, physiotherapist and massage therapy appointments upfront. This is why your law firm is ready to assist with setting up the financial support that you need to ensure your best chance of recovering from your injuries. 

Why should I hire a lawyer (non-financial aspect)

Hiring a lawyer simply levels the playing field. When you negotiate unrepresented, you generally have no idea what your claim is worth and you are vulnerable to the negotiation tactics that ICBC adjusters routinely apply to their claims every day. Once you hire a lawyer, your ICBC claim is immediately taken more seriously and is passed on to a more senior ICBC adjuster. 

Not only are lawyers useful for enforcing your legal rights, they have access to the best medical specialists and experts. It is in your lawyer’s best interest to ensure your access to the best medical care available so that you can document that you are taking all necessary steps for your recovery. 

When you hire a personal injury lawyer, you are hiring a support team to assist you financially, medically and emotionally. 

How can fees of one third make sense?

Pursuing injury claims is expensive. Claims generally take years to settle and require upfront staffing resources and legal expenses. After paying our legal fees, our clients have never walked away with less compensation than they would have been able to achieve themselves. 

Should I talk to a lawyer? If so, when?

Yes, you should talk to a personal injury lawyer right away. You have nothing to lose by taking advantage of the free initial consultations offered by all personal injury lawyers. The sooner you speak to a lawyer, the higher your chance is of achieving fair financial compensation for your injuries. 


Injury Issues

I had no pain at the scene of the crash. Could I have suffered a serious injury?

It is quite common not to feel pain at the scene of a car crash. Events such as car crashes create adrenaline in our bodies, which numbs us from feeling pain caused by injuries. The symptoms of your injuries might not be felt until later in the date or even the next day. This is especially common for soft-tissue injuries.

I did not lose consciousness. Might I still have a brain injury?

Yes, it is possible to sustain a brain injury without losing consciousness. An example of a man who suffered a steel rod through his skull without losing consciousness is given in the first article below:

Psychological Issues

I am very anxious about driving. What do I do?

Driving anxiety is a common psychological injury sustained after a car crash. Like physical injuries, it is important to seek treatment and document the evidence of your condition in order to be fairly compensated for it.

Pre-existing Medical Conditions

If I had some pain or other symptoms before a crash or even a pre-existing disability, am I still entitled to compensation for new or worsened symptoms?

Yes. If you if had pre-existing injury issues that were worsened by a car crash, you are still entitled to fair compensation for your injuries. However, the insurance company might take the position that having an injury before and after a crash amounts to no material change. In these situations, it is often necessary to have a lawyer enforce your rights.

There had been some degeneration in my spine before the crash, without symptoms, is ICBC able to use that against me?

Degeneration is a part of the aging process, and ICBC is not able to penalize car crash victims for it. Personal injury claims are about evaluating the symptoms, or pain caused by a car crash.

If you did have pre-existing symptoms, it is important to preserve the evidence of your injuries so that you can create a benchmark for the new or worsened symptoms.

Returning to Activities

When can I return to my recreational activities?

Within the limits of your doctor’s recommendation, you should return to your recreational activities as soon as possible. The best thing you can do for your car crash claim is to make a valid attempt at having your life return to normal. If your injuries prevent you from enjoying former activities, or creates limitations in your abilities, it is important to document that evidence.

A Friend or Family Member is at Fault

Do I have a claim if a family member caused the crash?

Yes you do, and it requires suing your family member.

When you sue a family member, ICBC is representing your family member. Your family member will have little or no involvement and will not be financially impacted aside from their insurance rates increasing.

Claims for Children

My child was a passenger in a car crash. What should I do?

When a child is injured in a car crash, it becomes incredibly important to preserve the evidence by documenting the impact of your child’s injuries. Children aren’t always able to articulate their feelings, which means it is important to also document any changes in their behaviour or mood.

Children’s claims generally span for many years which is why documenting the evidence of their injuries is particularly important.

How long does my child have to make a personal injury claim? 

The two year limitation period (expiry date) for filing a personal injury claim begins on your child’s 19th birthday. This means that the deadline is effectively you child’s 21st birthday.

Claims for Seniors

Is my claim smaller because I am a senior?

Claims for seniors are generally smaller than they are for younger people. This is because the income loss portion of the claim is generally lower or non-existent.

However, income loss only represents one aspect of injury claim valuation. Car crash injuries impact seniors and they are entitled to be compensated for them. Hiring a lawyer can be particularly important when you are a senior so that your ICBC adjuster does not try to minimize your claim in other valuation areas.

Hit and Run

I was injured in a hit and run. What impact does that have on my claim?

ICBC is setup to fully compensate British Columbians for losses incurred in a hit and run car crash. This means the value of your claim will not be affected by the fact that the crash was a hit and run.

However, as the victim of a hit and run collision, you have some additional responsibilities to ensure that you achieve fair financial compensation (see next question).

What are my responsibilities after I’ve been hit? 

After you have reported your hit and run car crash to both ICBC and the RCMP, you must make an effort to identify the offending driver. This responsibility can be fulfilled by seeking out witnesses by posting signs, posting to social media, and/or requesting the help of the media to track down the offending driver.

The result of your efforts will not impact the coverage of your claim. It is simply important that you make an attempt to track down the driver.

Relying on your ICBC adjuster for hit and run claim advice is not always the best way to be informed of your rights. We recommend seeking legal advice and reading this column:

Vehicle Damage

I was hit at a very low speed. Do I still have a claim? 

If you have sustained injuries in a car crash, the speed of the impact has no effect on the claim. ICBC sometimes references their Low Velocity Impact Policy, to disqualify claims that occur at low speeds. This is misleading because the Low Velocity Impact Policy has been refuted in court, and therefore cannot be used to deny your claim.

In some cases, it is necessary to rely on the assistance of a lawyer to ensure that your rights are being enforced.

What if there is very little damage to my car – does that impact my claim?

Similar to vehicle speed (mentioned above), vehicle damage has no impact on your claim. Personal injury claims are about pain and the limitations caused by that pain. External evidence such as vehicle damage cannot be used to minimize the value of your claim.

When I sell my car, I will be paid less because I now have to declare that there was more than $2,000 damage. Will ICBC have to reimburse me that loss?

When the resale value of a vehicle is negatively affected by a car crash, it is referred to as accelerated depreciation. In certain cases where the accelerated deprecation has been verified by an appraiser, ICBC has been required to reimburse for the loss in resale value caused by accelerated depreciation.

Slip and Fall

I slipped and fell, resulting in an injury. Do I have a claim?

Not always. A slip and fall claim requires proving that the fall occurred due to negligence and that losses were sustained due to the injury.

If you have sustained an injury due to a fall, we recommend obtaining a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer and reading some of these columns:

Fatality Claims

What claim do I have if someone close to me was killed in a crash?

The financial losses of fatality claims are reimbursed. For example, if the breadwinner of a family was killed due to negligence, there would be financial losses to claim for. To better understand the value of your potential claim, it is important to seek the free initial consultation with a lawyer.