If you are the innocent victim of an accident caused—at least in part—by the fault of another person, you can make a Personal Injury Claim (“PI Claim”). This type of claim allows for 100% recovery of expenses for medical care, rehabilitation and disability; past and future income losses; and other compensation, known as damages.
A PI Claim can be made in addition to your claim for ICBC Accident Benefits for medical care and income loss. For more information on ICBC benefits see:
As the innocent victim, you would make the PI Claim against the person who wrongfully hurt you in a car accident. You cannot make this claim unless someone else was at least partially at fault for the accident. Further, individuals who were at fault cannot succeed with a PI Claim; they can claim ICBC Accident benefits only.
If you were driving for work at the time of the accident, you will have to choose between a WorkSafeBC claim and a PI Claim. For more information on WorkSafeBC claims see: ICBC and WorkSafeBC Coverage – Workers in Motor Vehicle Accidents.
You may make a PI Claim even if you are receiving other benefits such as:
However, if you are found partially at fault for the accident, the amount you receive from your PI Claim will be reduced by a certain percentage. If you are solely at fault, your claim is limited to ICBC Accident Benefits only.
Lawyers refer to five “heads of damages” an innocent victim may recover through a PI Claim. An innocent victim may collect some or all of them depending on their unique circumstances. The five heads of damages are:
Again, if you are found partially at fault for the accident, the amount you receive from your PI Claim will be reduced by a certain percentage. If you are solely at fault, your claim is limited to ICBC Accident Benefits only.
ICBC will subtract any Accident Benefits you have already received from your PI Claim award. That means, for example, if you are awarded $20,000 and ICBC has already paid you $8,000 in income loss benefits, you would only receive $12,000.
On the other hand, Employment Insurance sickness benefits, Canada Pension Plan disability benefits, and private disability benefits are usually not subtracted from your PI Claim. For information on all other benefit options, see: Other Types of Coverage – When to Collect.
ICBC will defend the at-fault driver from your PI Claim by contracting the defense to a law firm. To avoid the cost and time of a trial, ICBC will likely make you an offer to settle your claim, especially if you stand to collect a relatively large amount. Do not accept a settlement offer from ICBC until:
If you accept an offer without that information, even if your settlement is entirely unfair, you will not be able to make future claims. You should consult a lawyer to assess an offer from ICBC before accepting it. BEWARE: ICBC may show you cases decided by judges to make an offer seem fair, but for every low-value decision there is another much higher one.
Your lawyer will try to settle your PI Claim outside of Court through negotiating or mediating with ICBC. Sometimes you may have to sue in Court.
Some typical PI Claim examples include:
We recommend that you do not start your own claim without first seeking legal advice.
A PI Claim generally proceeds slowly, from months to years, as it is important that you reach a medical plateau before considering settlement. Before this point is reached, you can recover interim compensation for income loss and expenses.
Depending on the seriousness of your injury and how complicated your recovery is, your Claim may take years before it’s settled or goes to trial. Your lawyer should be able to give you a fairly accurate time estimate after he or she has become familiar with your case.
Generally, however, the more complicated your case, the longer it will take before you receive compensation.