Part 7 benefits are not paid automatically upon an accident occurring. Instead, if you are entitled to such benefits you must apply to ICBC in order to receive them. There are a number of procedural steps that you must take in order to apply for such benefits, and if you fail to do so you run the risk of having your claim denied.
‘Promptly’ Notifying ICBC of the Claim
The Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation states that individuals injured in an accident must ‘promptly’ notify ICBC of the accident in order to claim Part 7 Benefits. This can be done online through ICBC’s website, or by calling ICBC’s Dial-a-Claim line. ICBC will keep a record of any statement that you make when reporting a claim. If you report a claim you should make sure that the information given to ICBC is entirely accurate and relevant, and keep in mind that the information could potentially be used against you in subsequent court proceedings.
Providing ICBC With a Written Statement Within 30 Days of the Accident
You must also provide ICBC with a written report of the circumstances of the accident within 30 days of the accident occurring. This report must include the details of the accident and any injuries or losses sustained as a result of the accident. Such reports are generally one to two pages in length and do not need to be extremely detailed, as long as no material information is omitted.
ICBC may ask you to provide a detailed verbal account of the accident and other related information, including: the circumstances surrounding the accident; the injuries you have suffered as a result of the accident, any previous injuries or health problems you may have been suffering from, as well as your employment history. ICBC may also ask you to sign a statement setting out the information. You are not legally required to sign a statement provided by ICBC. Indeed, a signed statement may be used against you by ICBC in court if you make a claim against the other driver involved in the accident, as well as to prevent your entitlement to Part 7 Benefits. You should generally not sign any statement ICBC puts to you. If you do decide to sign a statement, you should ensure that you read it carefully and verify that the information is entirely accurate. If you are unsure of anything, take it home and review it, or consult a lawyer for guidance.
Providing ICBC with a Proof of Claim Within 90 Days of the Accident
You must provide ICBC with a completed Proof of Claim form within 90 days of your accident. This is a one-page form, referred to as the CL-22, which contains information regarding your doctors, family circumstances and employment. Your ICBC adjuster must provide this form to you. All information that you provide must be complete and accurate.
While you are not required to provide ICBC with medical information, certain benefits are only payable if they are medically necessary, so in practice medical documentation from your doctor setting out your need for treatment will be required in order to support an application for Part 7 Benefits. You can organize this with your doctors, or ICBC can obtain a medical report from your doctor, specifically addressing the injuries and limitations associated with your accident. You should keep a copy of this report for your records. It is important to organize a file that includes all reports, records and forms associated with your claim.
Your ICBC adjuster will likely ask you to sign authorizations allowing ICBC to collect personal information about you, including records from your doctors, therapists, and employer. These authorizations are very broad and will allow ICBC to access personal information entirely unrelated to your accident and and your entitlement for Part 7 benefits. This information could be used by ICBC to deny your entitlement to Part 7 benefits, as well as to defend against any claim you make against the driver at fault for your accident. You are not legally required to sign these authorisations and you should not do so.
As can be seen from the above, the process for applying for Part 7 benefits can be complicated, and it is advisable that you retain the advice of a personal injury or ICBC lawyer to guide you through the process. The sooner that you retain a lawyer after your accident, the better they can help you manage your claim successfully and receive the full amount of benefits you are entitled to.