After a car accident, things can seem to spiral out of control as you deal with the damages to both person and property. Even a minor incident can have a lot of repercussions if either side files an insurance claim or sustains any damage.
Sometimes, especially in the case of personal injury, the damage is not even noticed right away. It often can take anywhere from hours to weeks or even months for an injury to become evident.
Knowing the steps to take after you have been in an accident can save you a lot of time, stress and headaches. Whether you have had an accident or are just preparing yourself in case you find yourself in that situation at some point, there are five main things that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) suggests you should be aware of.
- Be sure to report your accident, regardless of whether or not you were at fault.
Even if you feel that you did not sustain significant injury to your person or property, by law in British Columbia every motorist involved in a crash must report it to their insurance company within what is considered a reasonable amount of time.
Fault is assessed by ICBC based on what information is available, so reporting your side of the story is important to ensuring that you receive a fair and accurate result of who is at fault.
The general procedure is that once you report your claim to your insurance company, your adjuster will attempt to contact the other driver involved before you meet with anyone regarding your claim. In two weeks, a second notice will be sent asking the other driver to make contact, and if that does not happen, fault will be determined based on the information that you, a police report, and any other applicable information have provided.
Because of this procedure, it is important that you follow the guidelines and go ahead and report your accident before this time has elapsed; otherwise, fault may be incorrectly placed on you because you did not make contact in a timely manner.
- Be prepared when you report your claim online or via telephone.
When you file a claim, you can do this online or on the phone any time of day or night. You will need to have organized access to certain documents before you can finish your claim, however, so prepare ahead before calling.
For fast reporting, have in your possession the license plate number of all of the vehicles that were involved in the incident as well as each driver’s license number. Any vehicles that are not insured by ICBC should have provided you their insurance information, and you will need this.
Information that is helpful but not required is a police file number if a report was obtained, and the name and address of a repair shop that you would prefer to deal with (as long as it is ICBC accredited.)
Having this information on hand will make your claim report go quickly and easily and help the adjuster begin processing your claim right away.
Once you have your documentation in order, you will need to decide what type of claim you are reporting. A vehicle damage claim is very common, but can only be reported online if you are a registered owner, principal operator or lessee of a personal vehicle.
Personal vehicle damage includes collision, hit and run, vandalism, theft, fire, weather and emergency roadside expenses.
If you have glass injury to more than one piece of glass, you will need to contact ICBC. If there is only one piece of glass damaged, you can simply stop in at an ICBC approved Glass-Express facility to easily get your windshield or other cracked glass fixed quickly.
Other types of accidents that need to be reported are those that you have witnessed but not participated in, such as a hit and run, car accident, vandalism, theft or fire. If you are a witness to any of those incidents, you can file a witness report online.
Claims that cannot be filed online include those in which you are a passenger or pedestrian, a cyclist involved in an accident, involved in an accident where the vehicle is company-owned or leased, or you are reporting damage to property.
- If you are injured in a crash, you may be eligible for WorkSafe benefits.
If you were not at fault in your accident, you can file a claim for WorkSafeBC if you were employed at the time of your collision. WorkSafeBC is required to review your claim and make a determination as to whether you qualify for their benefits.
Per government legislation, however, ICBC cannot pay out accident benefits if WorkSafeBC provides you with the entitlement to medical benefits, wage-loss stipends or rehabilitation benefits. You are only able to choose where you claim compensation from under specific circumstances, of which your adjuster can give you details if you feel you may fall in this category.
- Once you file your claim, continue to check in on the progress.
Soon after your claim is reported, whether by phone or online, you will receive an email or documentation with your claim number on it. Your claims adjuster has one business day to review your claim and attempt to make contact with you, but you can follow up on your claim any time at their website.
Check in on the progress occasionally so you know if any further action is required on your part or if any discrepancies are occurring.
- Find an accident expert who can help you along the way.
Even with these basic steps, continuing to put the pieces of your life back together after an accident can be difficult. There are often questions that you may not know the answer to, obstacles that you have to face, and medical issues that need to be addressed.
Contacting an ICBC claims lawyer can help you streamline this process and get the help that you are entitled to. Visit AchesonLaw.ca or another reputable and trusted attorney to guide you every step of the way throughout your claim.
Keep These Guidelines in Mind
Should you find yourself in an automobile accident, be sure to follow these five steps to make sure your experience is as simple and stress-free as possible. Let the experts in the insurance and legal fields guide you throughout your process to ensure you are getting the benefits you are entitled to.