Out-of-Pocket Expenses (Special Damages)

ICBC is required to pay your out-of-pocket expenses called special damages reasonably incurred because of the injuries suffered in the accident. They generally require you to produce receipts which substantiate each expense.

Unfortunately, many individuals do not do a very good job of keeping receipts for various expenses. Hence, ICBC gets away with not paying a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. For example, how many people who go to the pharmacy and purchase Extra Strength Tylenol because of headaches from injuries suffered in a car accident actually keep the receipt and submit them to ICBC?

The best thing to do is whenever you incur any money for any expense reasonably attributable to your injuries, get a receipt and put the receipt in a folder for safekeeping. At the same time, keep a spread-sheet of the expenses incurred. It is worth your effort as that will maximize your recovery.

The other thing you should do is keep track of number of medical and therapy visits because you are entitled to a mileage claim to and from the medical/therapy centre.

There is no limit on the out-of-pocket expenses you can submit in an ICBC claim so long as the expenses are reasonable and medically necessary to deal with the injuries suffered in the accident. The fact that you are spending money on getting better helps your claim because ICBC will have a harder time arguing that you have failed to mitigate your damages by trying to get better through exercise or treatment. Also, the more you spend on your claim, the easier it is to illustrate the severity of your injuries to ICBC.

The United States has developed a system where the amount paid out on any injury claim is directly correlated to the amount of medical expenses incurred by the injured party in his/her recovery. ICBC does not work under the same practice but hints of the United States system do creep into the decision-making process at ICBC.

If at all possible, you should follow your doctor’s advice and try to fund the out-of-pocket expenses necessary to help you in your recovery. The expenses could include going to therapy, hiring a housekeeper, purchasing prescription medication, etc. Make sure you discuss the treatment plan with your family doctor and don’t simply rely on the therapist to tell you what is necessary because ultimately you need medical support for any treatment you are receiving. The word of a therapist is not sufficient.

One word of caution is that ICBC will not pay for excess of treatment and therapy. In some instances, a therapist may over-treat the patient. When the therapy expenses become very high (well over a thousand dollar) ICBC often will deny paying the entire amount of the claim. This is particularly so with passive treatment such as massage therapy or chiropractic treatment. The Courts also are hesitant to awarding a large sum of money for treatment in some cases. Therefore, there are limits to the amount of treatment that you should incur in your case. As a general rule of thumb, if the treatment is being recommended by your family doctor chances are it will be difficult for ICBC to avoid payment of it.

In summary, if you want to maximize your recovery for out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of your injuries, accurate record keeping is essential. The more you can spend on reasonable out-of-pocket expenses the better off you are in your ICBC claim because the expenses illustrate the severity of your injuries and prevent ICBC from arguing that you failed to mitigate your damages by following treatment recommendations. Avoid excessive treatment and make sure that you continually monitor your treatment plan with your family doctor.