Providing statements to ICBC
This page provides information related to injured persons providing statements to ICBC after an accident. Different considerations apply to drivers of vehicles involved in accidents, even if they are also injured persons. See the Info for Drivers section of the website for information about the rights and obligations of drivers.
What is a statement?
A statement is not something that only arises once you sign on a dotted line. A statement is anything you say, write, or acknowledge as correct, in circumstances where a permanent record of what you indicated is made. Statements come in many forms, with a varying degree of formality. The most formal type of statement, and indeed this is what many people think of when asked if they “gave a statement” is a written summary of facts which is then signed and dated by the person giving the statement, but there are other types of less formal statements that are routinely taken by ICBC.
The following are examples of statements that ICBC may take from injury claimants:
- Signed written statement. This may be typed up on a computer by the ICBC adjuster based on information the claimant provides during an in-person interview at a claims center. The adjuster may then print out the statement, ask the claimant to review it and make corrections as necessary, and then sign it. This is the most formal type of statement that ICBC routinely collects.
- “Formal” telephone statement. When the claimant does not attend the claims center in person ICBC may request the claimant to provide a telephone statement. This may involve the adjuster questioning the claimant during a telephone conversation, typing up the statement, reading the statement back to the claimant, and then asking the claimant to verify and if necessary correct the statement. This “formal” type of telephone statement may be printed out or saved as a separate document and kept on file by ICBC even though not signed by the claimant.
- “Informal” telephone statement. Generally every time an ICBC adjuster has a conversation with a claimant (or a witness, defendant driver, lawyer for a claimant; in fact pretty much anyone) they make notes (commonly called CWMS notes) on a computer system that collects and organizes information for each claim. Therefore whenever a claimant speaks to ICBC they are, perhaps without realizing it, making informal statements that are being recorded by ICBC.
In many circumstances it will be necessary and appropriate for claimants to speak to ICBC, but it is important for claimants to realize the broad range of circumstances in which they may be considered to be giving a statement and to appreciate that information provided to ICBC may be used by ICBC in deciding how to handle the claim, and may ultimately be used against the claimant.
Statements not mandatory for tort claims
There is no obligation at all on tort claimants to provide statements to ICBC. Indeed, they may refrain from communicating with ICBC until the time comes to serve the tort claim on ICBC. Tort claims must be filed within two years of the accident and must generally be served on the named defendants and ICBC within a year of filing.
Note however, that it is imprudent to proceed with a tort claim without making a concurrent Part 7 claim (which does require prompt dealings with ICBC) because amounts which could have been recovered under Part 7 will generally reduce the compensation available in the tort action.
Therefore, although it is not necessary to provide a statement for a tort claim, it is generally prudent to communicate with ICBC after an accident regarding the Part 7 claim and to comply with any obligations the injured person may have in their capacity as a driver of a vehicle in the accident (if indeed they were a driver of a vehicle in the accident).
Statements ARE required for Part 7 claims
Claimants who wish to make Part 7 claims are required to provide statements to ICBC. The timeline for making the statements, and the requirements for the statements, are set out in s. 97 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation:
97 (1) Where an accident occurs for which benefits are provided under this Part, the insured shall
(a) promptly give the corporation notice of the accident,
(b) not later than 30 days from the date of the accident, mail to the corporation by registered mail, or deliver to the nearest claims centre of the corporation, a written report on the accident with particulars of the circumstances in which the accident occurred and the consequences of the accident, and
(c) within 90 days from the date of the accident furnish the corporation with a proof of claim in a form authorized by the corporation.
(2) The corporation is not liable to an insured who, to the prejudice of the corporation, fails to comply with this section.
(Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation, s. 97).
Section 97(1)(a) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation indicates that a person who intends to make a Part 7 claim should give ICBC “prompt” notice of the accident. This notice should generally be given within hours, or at most days, of the accident and can be given by phoning ICBC to report the accident.
30 day report on the accident
Section 97(1)(b) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation states that, within 30 days of the accident, the claimant is required to provide a written statement that sets out:
- the circumstances in which the accident occurred and;
- the consequences of the accident.
Note the following regarding the 30 day s. 97(1)(b) statement:
- It need not be provided in person (it can be sent in by registered mail).
- It need not be signed by, or even written by, the claimant.
- It need not describe in minute detail how the accident occurred; it must merely state the circumstances in which the accident occurred.
The following is an example of a relatively brief 30 day s. 97(1)(b) statement:
Mr. Smith, born April 1, 1990 (the “Claimant”), was involved in an accident which occurred on April 1, 2012 at the intersection of Main and Hastings Street in the City of Vancouver, BC
At the time of the accident the Claimant was a pedestrian and was struck by a bus while crossing Hastings Street.
As a result of the accident the Claimant suffered various injuries including to his neck, back, and left leg. As a result of the injuries the Claimant has suffered various symptoms including a soft tissue pain, headaches, sleeplessness, and fatigue.
April 4, 2012
Note that the above example is not necessarily indicative of what might be required for a s. 97 statement in any particular case.
Proof of claim
Section 97(1)(c) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation indicates that a proof of claim for a Part 7 claim must be provided within 90 days of the accident. The proof of claim form typically used is a fill-in-the-blank forms which requires the claimant to fill in information relevant to the Part 7 claim that will be advanced. Generally, in addition to personal information such as name, address, date of birth etc., the form will require the claimant to provide information relevant to the injuries suffered (e.g. description of the injuries, treatment received, family doctor information, etc.) and employment information (occupation, employment history, wage / salary information, etc.).
The standard form fill-in-the-blank proof of claim document that ICBC provides is called a “CL22 - Insurance Claim Application Form”, and this is the form that should be filled out and submitted to ICBC before the 90 days after the accident. To ensure you use the latest form, contact ICBC to obtain a copy of the claim form.
Should I attend an interview at ICBC and sign a written statement?
As discussed above, statements are not required at all for tort claims, but the following statements must be provided to ICBC for Part 7 claims:
- notice of the accident to be provided promptly;
- s. 97(1)(b) statement which must be provided within 30 days after the accident; and
- proof of claim to be submitted within 90 days after the accident.
Once those minimum requirements have been satisfied, injury claimants must decide whether to voluntarily provide additional information to ICBC which they are not obligated to provide.
Some lawyers strongly advise claimants against attending ICBC for an interview and advise that claimants leave it to the lawyer to handle all aspects of the claim. While it is true that having a lawyer handle your claim is the “safest” option, to some extent lawyers have an incentive to demonize ICBC and scare clients into hiring a lawyer (who will take a fee for their services) rather than having the claimant handle the claim themselves (which will mean that there is no fee paid to the lawyer). See the Hiring a Lawyer section of this website for more information about hiring a lawyer, but keep in mind that claimants should be skeptical of lawyers who are overly emphatic that a lawyer should be hired to communicate with ICBC, especially in minor injury cases.
If the claimant attends an in-person interview at ICBC the adjuster may ask the claimant questions about how the accident occurred and about the injuries the claimant suffered as a result of the accident. Using the information provided the adjuster may type up a written statement and then provide it to the claimant for review and signature. A signed written statement is the most formal type of statement commonly provided.
There are potential benefits to providing a signed statement:
- It creates a clear record of what occurred while the events are still fresh in the claimant’s mind.
- It may lead ICBC to consider the claimant to be an open and honest person who has nothing to hide, which may lead to the claimant being perceived as trustworthy and ICBC may be more inclined to accept the claimant’s word on controversial matters.
However, there are also potential problems that can arise from giving a signed written statement:
- If a particular fact is honestly, but mistakenly, left out of the statement, ICBC and / or a judge later considering the case may draw negative conclusions in relation to the omitted fact.
- If the claimant honestly, but mistakenly, provides incorrect information, or fails to correct an inaccuracy in the draft statement prepared by the adjuster, that error may later count against the claimant.
- The claimant may divulge information which is detrimental to the claim and which might never have been discovered had the claimant not made the statement.
Jones v. Ma, 2010 BCSC 1125 was a case in which problems arose because of errors in a statement the claimant gave to ICBC shortly after the accident. At trial the plaintiff testified that accident happened after the defendant, who was initially travelling in front of the plaintiff, veered right and then turned left without signaling. When previously giving a statement to ICBC the plaintiff had failed to mention that the defendant had veered right before turning left:
In that statement, Ms. Jones did not mention Ms. Ma veering right before turning left. Ms. Jones explained in her trial testimony that she was not satisfied with the way the ICBC agent had written the statement down, but the agent was impatient and required her to sign it.
(Jones v. Ma, 2010 BCSC 1125 at para. 8).
Fortunately for the plaintiff in that case, the trial judge accepted the evidence that the statement was rushed and that the differences between the statement and the trial evidence did not detract from the trail evidence of the plaintiff:
[T]he fact that Ms. Jones’ ICBC statement does not mention Ms. Ma veering right does not, in my view, detract from Ms. Jones’ trial testimony. The ICBC statement was not written by Ms. Jones herself, but rather by the ICBC agent, who was clearly paraphrasing what Ms. Jones had told her. Ms. Jones told the agent she was not satisfied with the statement, but the agent asked her to sign it anyway. In these circumstances, the ICBC statement does not constitute a previous inconsistent statement of the sort that would detract from the credibility of Ms. Jones’ trial testimony.
(Jones v. Ma, 2010 BCSC 1125 at para. 14).
However, the case demonstrates the difficulties that can arise in giving a statement to ICBC even if the claimant seeks to describe the accident as accurately as possible. The result in that case might have been different if defence had called the ICBC adjuster who took the statement and that adjuster had additional notes about what was discussed during the taking of the statement and had testified that the plaintiff had not been rushed when giving the statement.
Because of the human tendency to forget details, and make honest mistakes, giving a statement is generally more often harmful than it is helpful to the claimant. If a claimant is inclined to give a statement it may be wise to ask to take the statement home, review it further over the next day or two to make sure it is correct, and complete, and then mail it in.
It is important to keep in mind the point made in the section above about trusting ICBC to do the “right thing”; the right thing for an insurance company to do is to make all available arguments to minimize the compensation payable to claimants. Volunteering additional information to ICBC may (or may not) be used to the detriment (or benefit) of the claimant.
Should I provide a telephone statement?
Telephone statements are generally taken by an ICBC adjuster questioning the claimant during an interview conducted by telephone, typing up the statement, reading the statement back to the claimant, and then asking the claimant to verify and if necessary correct the statement. In one sense, telephone statements are more risky than signed statements because it may be more difficult to detect errors in a statement read to you over the phone than it is to notice them in a written document in front of you. However, because telephone statements are not signed they are generally considered to be less reliable than signed statements and therefore a given discrepancy will generally be considered more significant if it is in a signed statement than if it is in a telephone statement.
Because of the increased likelihood of errors in statements taken over the phone, if a claimant decides that they would like to give a statement, it is generally better to attend the claims center in person and ensure the statement is as accurate as possible rather than giving a statement over the phone.
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