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Some people think its obvious why they don’t need a lawyer’s help after a car accident. They weren’t at fault for the accident, so no one is blaming them. The ICBC adjuster is being friendly and paying for some medical treatment, and perhaps even some lost wages. The forms ICBC had them sign seem straight forward, and the adjuster and perhaps their doctor, are saying they should be recovered in a matter of weeks.
Everything seems ok, right?
Unfortunately, no, it often isn’t.
Things are often not what them seem after a car accident. There are several hidden and unexpected traps that unrepresented people do not discover until it is too late.
One common trap relates to the nature of whiplash and other soft tissue injuries, which are the most common type of injury suffered in a motor vehicle accident. These injuries rarely resolve as quickly as ICBC, or even some doctors, think they should. People are susceptible to injuries in different ways and in different degrees, and bodies heal differently.
If your recovery isn’t “normal” according to ICBC, or if you do not recover as quickly as your ICBC adjuster expects or wants, you may suddenly be under suspicion for exaggerating or even faking your injuries. This allegation, or even the innuendo, is often unfair, insulting, and always stressful.
Unfortunately, this skepticism is occasionally held by some doctors, however, these are often doctors who have not had the personal experience of suffering similar soft tissues injuries themselves and may base their expectations of your recovery on textbooks or other more fortunate patients.
Unfortunately, ICBC requires people who are not represented by a lawyer to give access to all of their medical records. This happens when an unrepresented person signs a disclosure document provided to them by ICBC shortly after the accident. From that point on, ICBC has access to any and all medical records ever created about you.
On the other hand, if you have a lawyer, you do not sign any ICBC disclosure document, and you and the lawyer decide what medical information is relevant to the ICBC claim. Your lawyer’s job is to make sure that ICBC is getting the right information about your medical history and recovery, not simply what ICBC wants to see. It is important to appreciate that ICBC will often ask for medical disclosure, saying it is necessary to approve funding for treatment to help you recover. Indeed, helping you recover is ICBC’s obligation under your insurance benefits.
What ICBC typically does not tell you, however, is that the same adjuster that uses those records to approve funding for your treatment, also represents the other driver whose negligence may have injured you, and that same adjuster is using those records, as that other person’s insurer, to build a case against you for why your injuries are not from the accident. This conflict is not apparent to many people until it is too late.
Your lawyer’s job is to make sure that this conflict doesn’t compromise your right to ongoing reasonable medical care, and to ensure that you receive your fair compensation from the other driver’s insurance when you are recovered.
Remember, when you have been injured by someone else’s neglect, standing up for your right to fair compensation is the right thing to do. Fair is not fraud.
We hope you have learned something from this week’s blog. Please feel free to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notice of our future weekly video blogs on the law. League and Williams is a Victoria, BC based law firm with expertise in injury law, estate disputes and marine law and may be reached via email at email@example.com or phone at 250-888-0002. We only work for injured plaintiff’s and are on your side, our goal is to help you recover as best as possible from your accident and to enable you to focus on getting better.