Just be honest with ICBC

“I was wondering, does the ICBC interviewer ask questions regarding how an individual's life has been affected by the accident?

“And in particular, not just physical injuries, pain etc. but mentally (anxiety, lowered mood, trauma, anxiety/hypervigilance while driving or as passenger), etc.?”

That question was posed to me by a psychological counsellor who wanted to learn more about the examination for discovery process so as to help prepare her patients.

Prepare her patients for an examination for discovery? That’s the lawyer’s job! On reflection, though, of course, her patients would reach out to her about an event with the ominous label of “examination for discovery”

Bright lights? Scowling, angry inquisition? Water boarding?

But truly, there’s nothing “objectively” stressful about the event. You are “just” required to be honest and forthright responding to questions about a subject matter about which you have supreme expertise: you!

But that’s easy for me to say. Having supervised hundreds of them, they’re about as familiar to me as the back of my hand.

Every new experience, clouded by uncertainty, has an element of stress. I’ve written previous columns removing various cobwebs of uncertainty, but none squarely addressing this counsellor’s question.

My response to her started with:

“Oh, my goodness, yes, the interviewer (lawyer representing ICBC) asks everything about how the crash victim’s life has been affected.”

Because that’s what your “claim” is all about. Our civil justice system currently requires bad drivers (through their liability insurance coverage with ICBC) to be accountable for those impacts.

I say “currently” because our provincial government is poised to change that by “capping” a key part of that accountability at $5,500.

That accountability piece is called “pain and suffering”, words that conjure up an image of the hero in The Princess Bride, strapped down to Count Rugen’s life sucking machine.

The machine, having levels from 1 through 50, was designed to create as much pain as possible, the number setting indicating how many years would be sucked from the victim’s life span!

The reality, in most chronic cases, is a constant, nagging stiffness, soreness or achiness that will flare up to levels of sharper and sharper pain when the injured areas are aggravated.

Life sucking? I think most people dealing with constant, nagging discomfort would agree that it’s draining.

You have less energy at the end of your work day. Social and other activities are more difficult and less enjoyable. It’s no surprise that mood might spiral downwards.

ICBC must fairly compensate you for those mood impacts as well.

How can ICBC fairly assess compensation those crash related symptoms, and how they have and might continue to impact on your income and expenses, unless they ask you about them?

Those of us in the business call it a discovery. It is ICBC’s opportunity, through their lawyer, to learn about or “discover” all about those issues.

The questions will not be just about how things are currently, though. They need to know everything that might assist with figuring out how things would have been different had the crash not occurred.

Here is an idea of some very broad subject matters of “discovery” you can expect to be asked about:

  • What happened in the crash or collision, even if there is no issue about fault. The collision dynamics might be relevant to your injuries;
  • How you were in the months and years before the crash. This is critically important to help sort out how you likely would have continued to be had the crash not occurred;
  • Any medical care or therapies you might have accessed in the months and years before the crash, and whatever you might have reported to those care givers;
  • The onset and progression of any symptoms you think might have been caused by the crash;
  • Any medical care or therapies you might have accessed since the crash, and whatever you might have reported to those care givers;
  • Your education and work history and work patterns before the crash, which is important to help sort out what your career path likely would have been had the crash not occurred;
  • Your work and work patterns after the crash, and the reasons for any changes;
  • What activities you enjoyed and participated in during the months and years leading up to the crash, how that might have changed after the crash, and why;
  • Your participation in household and yard chores in the months and years leading up to the crash, how that might have changed after the crash, and why;
  • Any other injuries or events in your life that might have had an impact on your physical or psychological health, whether before or since the crash; and
  • Friends, acquaintances, work colleagues and supervisors and family members who might or might not have “witnessed” changes after the crash.
  • Yes, that is a lot of material to cover! And don’t take this list to be an exhaustive one. There are all sorts of tributaries the “discovery” can take.

It will be important to your credibility that you do some work to refresh your memory. But unlike a school examination, you will not be required to memorize anything.

Nor will you be required to argue your case. The discovery is a time for providing factual answers, to the best of your honesty and recollection, not argument.


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About the Author

Paul Hergott began practicing law in 1995, in a general litigation practice. Of the various areas of litigation, he became most drawn to, and passionate about, pursuing fair compensation for injured victims. This gradually became his exclusive area of practice.

In 2007, Paul opened Hergott Law, a boutique personal injury law firm in the Central Interior, serving personal injury clients from all over British Columbia. Paul’s practice is restricted to acting only for the injured victim, never for ICBC or for other insurance companies.

Paul became a weekly newspaper columnist in January of 2007, when his first column entitled “It’s not about screwing the Insurance Company” was published. 

Please feel free to email or call Paul (1.855.437.4688) with legal issues you might like him to write about in his column, or to offer your feedback about something he has written.

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Achieving Justice Legal Blog:  http://www.hlaw.ca/category/all-columns/
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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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