Steps to Take After an Auto Accident Resulting in a Catastrophic Injury

Paine Edmonds - Friday, November 24, 2017

When a catastrophic injury occurs after an automobile accident, the result may be a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis, amputation, burning, scarring or disfigurement, severe orthopedic injury, or organ damage, and possibly psychological harm. Suffering any of these injuries can have a significant impact for you or your loved one who gets injured.

If a catastrophic injury has resulted from someone else’s neglect, you may be wondering what you need to do to get compensation. You may be worried about having enough money to sustain yourself and your family and paying medical bills.

Initial Steps to Take

If you have suffered an accidental catastrophic injury, proper steps must be taken to ensure the likelihood of getting the compensation you deserve. It is essential that you take a proactive role in the days following the accident, as it can make a major difference in the outcome of your insurance claim and personal injury lawsuit. Complete the following steps as soon as possible after your accident:

  1. Call the Police
    You or someone around you should call the police, and they will dispatch emergency medical personnel. Paramedics will tend to you, and the police will take notes, photographs and potentially sobriety tests (if traffic collision) at the scene. They may also conduct follow-up fact gathering by interviewing you at the hospital. It is paramount that you obtain a copy of the police report as soon as it is available. This report will be used as evidence, and it will usually state who they believe was at fault, if there is any.
    Police reports carry a lot of strength in personal injury claims filed against insurance companies. Even with the claims adjuster’s opinion involved, it is likely that the court or a jury will rely on the officer’s opinion because police reports can be so persuasive. This is another reason you should contact an expert personal injury lawyer immediately if you disagree with an assessment of fault within the police accident report.
  2. Gather Information About the Accident
    If possible, you or a witness should write down the names of people involved, facts, or other relevant details. If there are witnesses, seek out their personal information and ask them to write down their memory of the events. If this was a motor vehicle accident, take down the license plate and vehicle identification numbers of all vehicles that played a role in the crash.
  3. Receive Proper Medical Treatment
    After an accident causing catastrophic injury, it is likely paramedics will rush you to the emergency room. Before you are discharged from the hospital, request copies of your admission chart, doctor’s notes, x-rays, CAT scans, MRIs and any other information you might notice them take. Thereafter, make sure to keep receipts for any out of pocket expenses you incur.
  4. Notify ICBC
    You are required to notify ICBC that you were in an accident so they can open a claim. Basic information such as your name, the date or the accident and the name of the other party involved (if any) is important to provide. More detailed information can be provided by your lawyer. In fact, it is ideal to refer the ICBC adjustor to your lawyer so that no information is given that can be later used against you.
  5. Obtain a Personal Injury Lawyer
    A personal injury lawyer will listen carefully to hear what happened and then explain the laws that apply in this situation. A personal injury lawyer will work with you to file and litigate a tort action where it is warranted, gather the required evidence to prove the extent of your damages and represent you against the ICBC injury lawyer to get the most damages possible.

Case Examples Where a Personal Injury Lawyer Helped

In Diello v Montgomery, 2005 BCCA 56 (CanLII), a motor vehicle accident claim was appealed by the defendant. While the defendant’s counsel sought a reduced award of $80,000 to $130,000 in non-pecuniary damages, a reduced award for the plaintiff of $200,000 for non-pecuniary loss resulted. Originally, the jury awarded non-pecuniary damages of $362,000, but the trial judge reduced the award to $281,000 to conform to present value of $100,000 rough upper limit in trilogy cases. Sadly, the plaintiff was just 19 years of age when she suffered multiple fractures of neck vertebrae, injury to her cervical spinal cord, soft tissue neck injury, inner ear injury, and mild traumatic brain injury from the accident.

In Boyd v Harris, 2004 BCCA 146 (CanLII), a motor vehicle accident claim was appealed by the defendant after the jury assessed damages of $225,000 for non-pecuniary damages (as well as other damages). There was no doubt that the 36-year-old plaintiff suffered neck, spinal cord and other serious injuries from the accident. The appellate court found the award of non-pecuniary damages generous and it approached the upper limit of what is acceptable but was not overly excessive. The defendant’s appeal was dismissed.

Contact Paine Edmonds LLP for ICBC Claims in Vancouver & Surrounding Areas

A personal injury lawyer in Vancouver at Pain Edmonds LLP will provide you with a free consultation if you have suffered a catastrophic injury from an auto accident. He or she will also recommend that you follow your doctor’s recommendation for care, treatment and rehabilitation. Getting fair compensation is critical as a catastrophic injury can negatively impact your employment, mobility, recreation, communication and social and emotional well-being. Contact us at 1-800-669-8599 so we can help you get the compensation you deserve.