Plan Ahead! Consider Additional Disability Coverage through ICBC

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and cannot work, the typical maximum rate payable by ICBC for TTD (temporary total disability) benefits is only $300 per week.  Every driver in BC has access to this coverage as a matter of law; however, the benefit amount has not been increased for over 25 years!  As I have written in an earlier entry, it is nearly impossible to make ends meet on that kind of money, especially if you are paying out of pocket for treatment costs.

Few people are aware of this, but it is possible to purchase extra disability coverage from ICBC.  Some of us here at the firm buy this extra coverage every year when renewing our vehicle insurance.  You can increase your TTD rate from the typical $300 per week up to $700 per week by purchasing Income Replacement Policy APV197.  An additional coverage of $400 per month costs $84 per year.  It’s a great value.  There is very little information online regarding this extra coverage, so we recommend that you discuss this with your broker the next time you renew your insurance.

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in British Columbia, contact one of our Victoria Lawyers today.

ICBC Claims

ICBC claims advice, Velletta & Company

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia must be notified of every auto accident injury in BC. Notify ICBC of accidents which happen outside of BC if they involve an ICBC insured vehicle or driver. ICBC claims can quickly become complex and technical.

If at all possible, get legal advice before you notify ICBC. We offer free legal advice to accident victims in Victoria, Vancouver, Nanaimo and throughout BC. Other lawyers may do so as well.

Read moreICBC Claims

Why you should hire a lawyer when you are injured in a motor vehicle accident

We often have people ask us why so many people hire a lawyer to represent them when they are injured in a motor vehicle accident. There are several reasons for this. The first reason is that after an accident people that have been injured have enough to focus on with medical treatment, therapies, appointments, and healing their bodies. Also having to deal with ICBC on top of this can be overwhelming. Lawyers provide a shield between you and ICBC so that you can focus on healing rather than fighting your case.

Read moreWhy you should hire a lawyer when you are injured in a motor vehicle accident

What Can You Expect in a Lawsuit?

Velletta & Company, litigation lawyers

The timing of a lawsuit is difficult to predict. It depends on many things, including actions the Defendant takes, court schedules, and decisions the Plaintiff makes. In a personal injury lawsuit, the length of time recovery or medical treatment takes will change the length of time that a lawsuit takes. A lawsuit can take up to two years or longer to settle or go to trial.

Read moreWhat Can You Expect in a Lawsuit?

Myths and Facts About Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury law, Victoria BC

Traumatic brain injury can be the most devastating consequence of a motor vehicle crash, a sports injury, an assault or a fall. Brain injury survivors face years of intensive and costly rehabilitation. Many will require therapy and support for the rest of their lives. The toll on families is enormous.

Amazingly, insurance adjusters, judges and juries regularly deny head-injured people the compensation they need to rebuild their shattered lives! Athletes and car crash victims with serious concussions are not taken seriously. “He got his bell rung.” “She saw stars.” “It’s just a minor concussion.” Serious brain injuries are sometimes belittled and ignored.

Read moreMyths and Facts About Traumatic Brain Injury

What to do After an Automobile Accident

ICBC claims advice, Victoria lawyers

Disclaimer

SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION

  • If you are unsure whether you have been injured, go to the hospital for a check up. Many times shock and adrenaline will mask symptoms of serious injuries.
  • Don’t be surprised if you feel worse the next day. Many injuries take hours or days to manifest. This is particularly true of soft tissue neck and back injuries, rotator cuff (shoulder) injuries, and temporomandibular joint (jaw) injuries.
  • See your family doctor as soon as possible after the accident. Report all symptoms to him or her. Continue with regular visits until you have recovered completely.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice. Work at your recovery. If referred to other professionals, see them promptly. Failure to do so may result in your compensation being reduced.

PRESERVE EVIDENCE

  • Get names addresses and phone numbers of all drivers, witnesses and police officers involved. If you are hospitalized, get a friend or lawyer to help. Obtain a copy of the police motor vehicle accident report. Do not surrender this information to anyone without keeping copies.
  • Take pictures or have a friend or professional take pictures of:
    • Your vehicle and all other vehicles involved before they are repaired. Do not rely on insurance adjusters to do this for you. If access to the vehicles proves difficult get a lawyer to help.
    • Your body before the bruises, bumps, cuts and abrasions have healed.
    • The accident scene, preferably when conditions are similar to those at the time of the accident.
  • Make careful record of the date and who took every photograph. Save the negatives. You may need them.

KEEPING TRACK

  • Keep originals (if possible) or copies of all records, receipts, documents, pay stubs, accident reports, statements, doctor’s prescriptions, and any piece of paper you receive, send, fill out or sign.
  • Keep track of all relevant information including:
    • Names, addresses and telephone numbers of all doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors and other people you see in connection with the accident and your injuries;
    • All appointments with medical personnel, and anyone else you see in connection with the accident and your injuries. Record appointment date, purpose and mileage;
    • All expenses incurred as a result of the accident, including non-prescription drugs, babysitting, taxis, replacing lost or destroyed items. Get receipts where available;
    • A calendar or diary to record your injuries, symptoms, and recovery.
  • If you have a lawyer, they will try to resolve your claim quickly. But sometimes it takes months or even years for your symptoms to subside so fair compensation can be determined. It is almost impossible to prove the full extent of your losses unless you keep good records.

HIT AND RUN

  • If you are involved in a hit and run accident you must make all reasonable efforts to locate the hit and run driver immediately or you will lose your right to compensation in many jurisdictions especially British Columbia. This is true even if you are hospitalized.
  • Telling an adjuster or police officer is not enough. You or someone on your behalf should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

UNINSURED AND DELINQUENT MOTORISTS

  • Uninsured and underinsured drivers cause too many accidents and injure too many innocent people. Stolen cars, out of Province drivers, impaired drivers, all these situations come with their own special problems.
  • In most cases, there is some insurance coverage available, whether through the registered owner’s insurance, Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP), No Fault benefits or even a homeowner’s policy.
  • Each of these situations is unique and complex. If you have the misfortune to be injured by an uninsured or delinquent motorist, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you are able.

TRAFFIC OFFENCES

  • If you are arrested, ticketed or charged with any offence in connection with an accident take immediate steps to protect your rights.
  • If you are convicted of an offence or fail to dispute a ticket, you may lose your right to compensation and some convictions can even cost you your insurance coverage. In serious cases, the outcome could be a financial catastrophe.
  • Contact a lawyer immediately. Do not give any statement to police or answer any questions until you have received legal advice.

THE ADJUSTER

  • Insurance adjusters work for the person who caused the accident — not the injured person. Their job is to prevent you from speaking to a lawyer and to settle the claim as quickly and cheaply as possible.
  • Adjusters will often try to deduct items from your claim (like Employment Insurance benefits you receive while disabled) even when they are not allowed to by law.
  • Adjusters will try to obtain information from you which can be used to deny or reduce the value of your claim. Many people say something unfortunate or sign away their rights during their first visit with an adjuster.
  • Anything you say to an adjuster and any information they obtain can be used against you in a Court of law.
  • When a professional adjuster working for one of the largest insurance companies in Canada goes up against an injured accident victim — it is usually no contest.

THE LAWYER

  • Many accident victims cannot afford to pay an attorney. Lawyers will often take personal injury cases on contingency. They do not get paid until you do.
  • An attorney can assist best if they are involved from the beginning. With most contingency agreements it doesn’t cost any more to have a lawyer involved right from the start.
  • If you contact an attorney early enough, let them report the accident for you and talk to the adjuster. What you tell a lawyer is confidential. It cannot be used against you.
  • There are strict time limits for bringing injury claims. Some expire within days or weeks of an incident. If you miss a limitation, you may never be able to recover compensation. A lawyer will know this and protect your rights.
  • You may be blamed for the accident. Lawyers can help to gather the evidence to prove your innocence if they are involved early before the evidence disappears.
  • If you are seriously injured, have a family member or friend contact a lawyer. Experienced personal injury attorneys will come to your home or hospital bed.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS

  • Make timely application for Employment Insurance, Disability Benefits, No Fault Benefits, Part VII Benefits Canada Pension and any other benefits to which you may be legally entitled.
  • If in doubt, ask your lawyer for help. Some benefits, like ICBC no fault benefits, are deducted from your insurance compensation even if you never claim them! Others, like Employment Insurance, are usually not deducted from your compensation.
  • Keep all appointments with doctors, therapists, lawyers and others involved with your case. If you are going to miss an appointment, phone early and cancel.
  • Do not talk to other lawyers, adjusters, private investigators or witnesses unless advised to do so by an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your words could come back to haunt you.

MORE INFORMATION

If you have a question or wish to find out how we can work with you to recover your losses and achieve fair compensation for your injuries, fill out our free Personal Injury Evaluator. Or contact us by e-mail. We are here to help. Our 24-hour telephone number is 250-383-9104.

Fair Compensation For Your Injuries

Personal injury law

When you are injured through the fault of others, you have a fundamental right to compensation. The law seeks to restore you, as much as it is humanly possible to the status you enjoyed before you were injured.

Lawyers, judges and insurance adjusters use certain terms to describe the different types of compensation available. This article focuses on how those terms are used in the Province of British Columbia Canada.

Read moreFair Compensation For Your Injuries

Brain Injured Client Can Finally Put Accident Behind Him

Personal injury law, Velletta & Company, Victoria BC

Bob’s* Story

Five years ago, Bob was 20 years old, an exceptional athlete, and he was taking a sports management program at a college. He was in a tournament with his classmates in March 2004. In the early morning, Bob was the passenger in a car travelling on a highway near Port Alberni. The driver of the vehicle lost control and drove off the road, down an embankment, and forcefully collided into a tree. The driver had been drinking and doing drugs and initially tried to pretend that he had not been driving the car. The jaws-of-life were required to remove Bob from the car. The impact had mostly been on Bob’s side of the car. He was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital in critical condition and in a coma.

Read moreBrain Injured Client Can Finally Put Accident Behind Him

Botched operation costs $2.9 million – Teenage girl suffers brain damage while in anesthetic recovery

The family of Megan Gallant, who suffered catastrophic brain damage in 2001 during a minor operation, was awarded a $2,925,000 judgment against the Capital Health Region in a decision handed down Friday.

“The family is very pleased with the award, but it’s one of the those difficult situations,” said the Gallants’ lawyer, Michael Velletta. “It’s hard to feel celebratory about this, but it brings to an end a lot of uncertainty and a lot of difficulties that they’ve faced in providing care for Megan. Now they will be able to provide a much-higher level of care and will have stability into the future.

“But nothing will bring their daughter back, nothing will make whole their life, no amount of money. They realize that.”

Megan was 15 years old when she suffered brain damage while in the post-anesthetic recovery room at Victoria General Hospital. According to her lawyers, she was left unattended for a period of time while still under the effect of anesthetics.

Spokesman Graham Sanderson of the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which includes the former Capital Health Region, said he could confirm only that the organization’s lawyers indicated a confidential settlement was reached in the Gallant case.

“It was a tragic incident and our sympathy goes out to the family,” said Sanderson, VIHA’s regional director for risk management.

Velletta said the award approved by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jacqueline Dorgan is at the high end of what is given for such injury cases in the province. The total includes the cost of future care, future loss of income, loss of marriage, legal expenses and the highest amount available for pain and suffering in Canada — $295,000.

Megan’s mother, Yvette, has been caring for her at home since December, 2001, and the judgment ensures she can continue, Velletta said.

“This judgment will enable her to obtain a better, more suitable home that’s outfitted specially for (Megan).”

He said Megan requires “total care”, including visits by a variety of therapists.

“We fought hard to prevent her from having to go into institutional care.”

Velletta said the case waged on Megan’s behalf was complex, hard-fought and technical, involving testimony from over 40 experts.

One area of emphasis for him and co-counsel Gregory Rhone was the “lapse in care” that was involved, he said.

“The family, and ourselves as well, wanted to ensure through this process a higher standard of care, and wanted to bring home that message and hold the parties accountable and responsible for the benefit of future patients.”

Hotel 75% to blame for woman’s fall, court rules

A freak accident on a 13-centimetre-high step at [a Victoria area hotel] permanently changed E.N’s life.

The mother of three went from being an active businesswoman to relying on a cane or brace to walk, after her ankle was shattered when she was leaving the historic hotel on March 2, 1990.

But a B.C. Supreme Court decision Thursday has gone a long way to making the 45-year-old woman fell better.

“I couldn’t stop crying, I was so happy,” said E.N. after hearing Justice Jacqueline Dorgan’s decision that the [Victoria area hotel] was 75 per cent liable for the accident.

Dorgan gave the decision after reserving judgment following the three-day trial this month.

At issue in the trial was liability, or whose fault it was for the fall.

It was E.N.’s first time at the hotel, said her lawyer, Aaron Gordon.

E.N. and her husband had chosen the waterfront hotel as an ideal spot for a welcome-home dinner with her son, because of the view.

After eating in [the dining room], the family left by the front door about 6:30 p.m. E.N. had not had anything to drink.

When she went out the Tudor-style front door, she did not realize there was a drop of about 13 centimetres.

She put her foot out the door and it was as if she had “stepped on air.” She landed on her ankle, shattering three bones.

Though E.N. has had two operations, the ankle has not healed properly. She walks with a cane or a leg brace, and has had to give up tennis and dancing.

Because she cannot stand for any length of time, E.N. said, she also had to close the import-export business she was just starting when the accident happened.

The Saanich woman has gone to Toronto and her native Ecuador seeking medical help. “They tell me I will just have to live with it. It makes me very sad. My life has completely changed.”

In her judgment, Dorgan found that the door and step were dangerous. She found that two small signs at the side of the door were “discreet” and that E.N. did not see them.

The judge found that E.N. was 25 per cent responsible for the accident, because she had entered by the same door an hour previous to leaving, and ought to have had some awareness of the entrance.

Gordon said there had been previous incidents at that same doorway where people leaving were injured. In 1987, a woman in her 80s broke her leg after falling at the step.

The hotel log noted that two other people had fallen on the step, but were n not injured.

The hotel had plans to level the steps as far back as 1987, but it was not done because there wasn’t a convenient time to close the building, court heard during the trial.

Hotel general manager K.W. said the plans were part of overall renovation at the building.

The step was levelled in 1990, about two months after E.N.’s fall.

“This was completely unrelated to her fall,” K.W. said in an interview. “This was not an area that was considered to be a safety hazard. If it was, it would have been looked after immediately.”

K.W. said it is common for buildings of the hotel’s vintage — it was built in 1927 — to have a small step outside the front entrance.

[note: The hotel appealed the Judge’s decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeal.]

Help! The insurance company is denying my claim!

Insurance law, Victoria BC, Velletta & Company

For many Canadians, insurance is a fact of life. We rely on our insurance policies to provide for us in the case of the unexpected. Insurance has become such an important part of our lives that in 2011, Canadians spent over 39 billion dollars on their premiums.[1] When you make a claim on your insurance, your claim will be managed by an insurance adjuster. The adjuster’s job is to ensure that you are paid out properly under the policy – and in most cases, your insurance claims are handled smoothly and you get the compensation and peace of mind you paid for. However, in order to keep your insurance premiums low (and the insurance company’s profits high), the adjuster must always endeavor to keep payments under the policy to a minimum. As a result, disputes arise between insurance companies and their customers about their insurance coverage, and many people find themselves frustrated, and in need of assistance in resolving these disputes.

Read moreHelp! The insurance company is denying my claim!

Driver takes ICBC to court to keep his safe drivers discount – and wins.

An interesting decision was released today by the British Columbia Provincial Court.  In this case, a driver was deemed by ICBC to be at fault for an accident that occurred when his vehicle struck a rock in the middle of the roadway.  ICBC made payments to an injured passenger, and repaired the vehicle, making both payments pursuant to the driver’s collision coverage, as opposed to paying “no-fault” benefits to the passenger, and paying out the repairs under his comprehensive insurance policy.   The upshot of ICBC’s determination,  was that the driver would lose his safe-driving discount, and would have to pay increased premiums.  He decided to fight this determination in court, and was successful.

Read moreDriver takes ICBC to court to keep his safe drivers discount – and wins.

Court of Appeal Decision Places Heavy Burden on Cyclists Passing On the Right

Earlier this month, the British Columbia Court of Appeal released its reasons in the case of Ormiston v. ICBC, 2014 BCCA 276.  In this case, an injured cyclist was found totally at fault for an accident that occurred while the cyclist was passing a vehicle on its right, contrary to the Motor Vehicle Act.  As a cyclist myself, I agree that cyclists must endeavour to follow the rules of the road – however, this case highlights problems with the legal framework that governs how motorists and cyclists are to share the road, and the associated problems in adjudicating negligence cases involving cyclists.

Read moreCourt of Appeal Decision Places Heavy Burden on Cyclists Passing On the Right

Illegal Income in a Personal Injury Claim

In a personal injury action, the injured party can claim against the defendant for both past income loss (being their actual lost income up to the date of the trial), as well as for potential future lost income earning ability (called a “loss of capacity” claim).  In both cases, the plaintiff must satisfy the court on a balance of probabilities that they have suffered these losses, as well as the amount of the loss.  In many cases, past wage loss can be a simple calculation – for example, a plaintiff can use pay stubs, or income tax returns to show how what their earnings were up to the accident, and can readily calculate how much income was lost – for example, if the plaintiff earned $600 a week, and was off for two weeks, their lost income is easily calculated to be $1,200.   Bringing a claim for lost income can be tricky if your income comes from more unorthodox sources.

Read moreIllegal Income in a Personal Injury Claim

Traumatic Brain Injury and Homelessness

A recently published Canadian study reveals a frighteningly high correlation between homelessness and traumatic brain injury.  This study was funded by the St. Michael’s Hospital Head Injury Clinic in Toronto, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation.

Read moreTraumatic Brain Injury and Homelessness

Injured, Poor, and Living Off of ICBC Benefits

Parties injured in a motor vehicle accident in BC have access to no-fault disability benefits and payment of some treatment costs through ICBC.  If the injuries were caused by another driver who as at fault, the injured party can bring a lawsuit to recover their additional losses.  In reality, this can play out very differently for individuals, depending on their economic status.  Parties that were barely scraping by before suffering injuries in a motor vehicle accident, are at a comparative disadvantage to those parties that have access to savings or outside streams of incomes, due to a number of compounding factors.

Read moreInjured, Poor, and Living Off of ICBC Benefits

Calculating ICBC Disability Benefits

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in British Columbia that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to disability benefits, even if the accident was your fault.  This is because in British Columbia,  we have a “no-fault” benefit scheme which provides wage loss benefits, death benefits, and medical benefits that are available to most people injured in a motor vehicle accident in BC (and for BC residents injured in the states, or elsewhere in Canada).  These benefits are set out in Part 7 of the BC Insurance Vehicle Regulation (which is why sometimes they are referred to as “Part 7 Benefits”).

Read moreCalculating ICBC Disability Benefits

Wildlife Collisions and ICBC Cases

Small business law advice from Velletta

Collisions with wildlife are an unfortunate reality for motorists in British Columbia.  According to some statistics, in an average year in BC, four people are killed, 384 motorists are injured, and at least 6100 animals are recorded as killed.   Here in Victoria, the abundance of deer on the roadways has resulted in some municipalities proposing drastic measures.  In personal injury lawsuits, ICBC adjusters and defence lawyers often seek to deny compensation to parties injured in a collision involving wildlife by claiming that the accident was “inevitable”, and not the result of any driver’s negligence.  However, each case turns on its own facts.

Read moreWildlife Collisions and ICBC Cases

Special Considerations for New Mothers in Personal Injury Actions

Family law, Velletta & Company, Victoria, BC

Our office recently resolved an ICBC claim for a young woman who suffered soft-tissue injuries in a motor vehicle accident while she was five months pregnant.  Of particular interest in this case was the calculation of a non-pecuniary damage award (sometimes called “pain and suffering” damages).

Read moreSpecial Considerations for New Mothers in Personal Injury Actions

ICBC Motor Vehicle Accidents and WorkSafe Claims

Immigration law, Velletta & Company, Victoria, BC

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident while at work, you may be barred from bringing a lawsuit to claim compensation for your injuries. If you fall into this category, it is important that you understand your rights, and the rules that apply to you.

Read moreICBC Motor Vehicle Accidents and WorkSafe Claims