Please note that I am not a lawyer, nor do I work for ICBC. This post is based on my own experience only.
British-Columbia is one of 3 provinces in Canada that has an at-fault system when it comes to car accidents. In legalese, it is called tort.
It means the non-faulty party has the right to sue the at-fault driver for various damages related to the car accident, such as loss of wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering etc…
This is what happened to me when I was involved in a collision 4 years ago, for which I was found 100% responsible. Both the other driver and their passengers claimed injuries and sued me 2 years later in the BC Supreme Court.
IF YOU ARE SERVED, BRING THE DOCUMENTS TO ICBC
in BC, people have 2 years to sue. I was served a Notice of Civil Claim 6 weeks before the limitations were to expire. If it happens to you, do not panic. Bring the documents to any claim centre. ICBC will take it from there.
This is why you pay them for basic third-party liability insurance. the crown corporation will cover the legal costs and any damage assessed up to $ 200 000. If you pay for extended third-party liability insurance, your coverage will be greater, up to $ 5 millions if you wish.
do not contact the other driver
No matter how upset or surprised you may be, there is no need to contact the other party.
ICBC will handle everything on your behalf. You will not be consulted on how to handle the lawsuit. Your appointed lawyer will also not take any direction from you in the matter.
This is why you pay for third-party liability insurance. Precisely so that you don’t have to do much….which brings me to the next point.
DUTY TO COOPERATE
The only thing you have to do is cooperate. Depending on the accident and the lawsuit, you may be required to meet with your appointed lawyer, ICBC or to attend the trial. Also, return any phone calls and reply to any e-mails sent to you.
Not cooperating could result in a breach of coverage, i.e. ICBC will no longer cover you and you will be on the hook for the entire cost of the claim.
For my case, I attended 2 meetings with my lawyer, an examination for discovery and replied to a bunch of e-mails from both my lawyer and ICBC. I never saw the other party again.
All lawsuits will settle, whether it is before or at trial. My appointed lawyer indicated around 95% of claims settle out of court. I was no exception. I did not have to pay for anything beside the deductible.
Being sued as a result of a car accident will not have a significant impact on your life, in most cases. I am not talking about injuries here, but about the lawsuit in itself.
The only time it could be problematic is if ICBC breaches your coverage for one reason or another, or if the damages exceed your third-party liability limits.