It’s not uncommon for drivers to disagree about who was “at fault” for an accident. If you take the suit to court and the court finds you are more than 51% at fault for the accident then you become the at-fault driver. At that point the other driver could sue you for the same damages you’re pursuing, and you won’t be able to recover tort damages for your injuries.
It’s even possible that you’ll be sued before you file, if you wait too long. You then become the defendant, and will need to prove you weren’t at-fault in court before you could sue as the plaintiff. At the very least, if this happens and you manage to do this you will have a pretty solid ground for negotiating your own settlement.
Nevertheless, being the defendant first puts you at a disadvantage.
The possibility of being sued is why it’s important to get as much Third-Party liability coverage as possible. ICBC will usually step in to defend you if you’re getting sued, but it will be a harder defense if you’ve already been declared at-fault in a previous case. If the amount awarded exceeds your policy limits you can be held personally liable for the damages.
Yet ICBC is not your friend here: they may try to deny you coverage, leaving you personally liable. Thus, you’re still going to want your own lawyer. The insurance company may even pay the claim, only to try to recover that money from you later. If you’ve been found at fault this is much, much easier for them.
These are all great reasons to move fast, finding legal representation as quickly as possible after your accident. You don’t want to be the first one sued, and you don’t want to end up in a situation where you are found at-fault for the accident. Of course, ICBC’s best case scenario is finding both you and the other driver as close to 50% at fault as possible so they can stick to paying the part 7 no-fault claims instead of the far more expensive 3rd party liability claims.
They also love this scenario because when any driver is more than 25% at fault they raise that driver’s premiums. This way they pay out very little and then get to get more money from both drivers, who, thanks to British Columbia Law, can’t go to other insurance companies.
It is the job of your injury lawyer to help you prove to the courts (or prove at the negotiation table) that your percentage of fault is as low as possible. To this end you’ll want to provide whatever evidence you can, including photos and witness names and numbers if you can get them.
Think ICBC doesn’t care about money because it’s a publicly run insurance company?
Check out a recent class action lawsuit being filed both against the BC government and against ICBC. One issue in the suit is that BC drivers have been overcharged for decades, and that accident victims have been undercompensated for decades, in part because the BC government has been skimming money from ICBC to pay doctors fees instead of billing the taxpayer-funded Medical Services Plan.
This has, in turn, driven up ICBC’s annual operating costs, contributing to the high premiums you pay every year. The lawsuit also alleges ICBC wrongfully represented to accident victims they had reached the limit of their accident benefits when they had not.
If you’ve been injured in an accident you don’t have time to delay. The other driver may believe you were at fault too. You need a strong advocate who can help you create a winning case. Call us today to get started.