We have previously discussed the role of a police report in a motor vehicle accident claim. A police report contains critical information about the parties involved in the accident and will be considered when determining fault for the accident. It is a valuable piece of evidence because it contains a description of the accident produced by an impartial third party (the police officer) shortly after the accident occurred. Given the important role that a police report plays in a claim for personal injury compensation, the car accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP are often asked if it is possible to make an ICBC claim without a police report. The short answer is yes, but this article will examine the issue in greater detail.
What are the requirements for reporting a car accident to the police in BC? There are certain situations where it is necessary to report a motor vehicle accident to the police. In BC, the police must be notified immediately if: • Someone is killed as a result of the accident; • Someone is seriously injured in the accident; • The estimated damage to vehicles is likely to be $2,000 or more; • There has been damage to property such as a lamp post or traffic light stand; • The accident involves an out-of-province vehicle; • A criminal offence was involved (e.g., impaired driving); and/or • A hit-and-run has occurred. In relation to that last point, it is important to note there are specific reporting rules and legal requirements that must be met to make a claim for damages as a result of a hit-and-run. For more information about hit-and-run accidents in particular, read this article or contact one of our ICBC lawyers. What if I report the accident to the police but they do not attend the scene? If it is a relatively minor accident such as a minor rear-ender or a parking lot fender-bender and there are no significant injuries (e.g., everyone is able to leave the scene and seek medical attention on their own without the need for an ambulance), the police likely will not attend the accident scene and as a result, there will be no police report. People involved in such minor collisions are permitted to exchange necessary information and clear the area without police involvement. The lack of a police report in such situations is not a bar to making an ICBC claim. That being said, unless the accident was very minor and all people involved agree to exchange information before leaving the scene, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution by calling the police from the scene of the accident. The police can determine whether their involvement is necessary. If the accident was serious, with injuries or fatalities involved, or meets any of the other criteria outline above, the police will attend the accident scene. Section 249 of BC’s Motor Vehicle Act sets out the situations in which a police officer who attends the accident must complete a written report of the accident and forward it to ICBC. What if I didn’t report the accident to the police? It is not uncommon for a person to be involved in a car accident and not realize until later that they sustained personal injury. For example, the symptoms of a soft tissue injury like whiplash may not be apparent until sometime after leaving the scene of the accident. It can also be difficult to ascertain vehicle damage at the scene, which can be hidden under the bumper cover or within the vehicle’s frame. In such situations the lack of a police report does not prevent an ICBC claim, but does mean that some additional work may be necessary to establish a claim. The experienced car accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP can assist you with gathering evidence and building your claim for personal injury compensation. Reporting an accident to ICBC is not optional If you do not report a car accident to ICBC — regardless of whether the accident was your fault — the right to personal injury compensation and ICBC accident benefits can be limited or delayed. To protect your rights, you should report your accident to ICBC as soon as possible (ideally within 24-48 hours). While reporting the accident to ICBC as soon as possible places you in a favourable position, legal advice is also critical as soon as possible after the accident. The best course of action is to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer before contacting ICBC. Contact us for a free initial consultation (toll-free, 24 hours) at 1-855-852-5100. Legal Guidance & More, from Injury to Recovery Bronson Jones & Company LLP exclusively represents victims of motor vehicle accidents, and that’s all we do! Unlike other law firms which deal with everything from dog bites to divorce, Bronson Jones has built more than 30 years of trial experience and in negotiating fair settlements for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents. We’ve also developed an extensive network of medical and occupational specialists, therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and others to help you recover and deal with the impact of your injury on your physical health, family life, finances and future. Additionally, such reports may be essential in the development of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call any of the 13 Bronson Jones locations in the Lower Mainland for our expertise and advice. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.