My name is Nick. I live in the greater Vancouver area. This is what happened to me that has changed my life completely. I only hope that one day I will be able to live my life normally, by that I mean not suffering from pain every single day and not having to worry about money problems anymore.
On April 1st 2000, I was involved in a car accident. I was driving along Lougheed Highway with my Father heading towards the North Road Intersection from Brunette Ave. When I reached the intersection of Alderson and Lougheed (right across the BMW dealership) a large SUV, a Chevy Tahoe to be exact rolled right through the stop sign on my right (there is now a traffic light there). This vehicle crossed the first lane and then stopped completely in the second lane, the lane I was in! There was another vehicle waiting to make a left hand turn, but because he wasn't paying attention, he did not see that until the last moment. I was in my parents Subaru GL-10 at that time, this car does not have ABS brakes, and I had about maybe 50 feet to stop. There is a concrete barrier on my left and another vehicle on my right. I had no where to go but straight. I hit the brakes and my tires locked up, I knew I didn't have a chance in hell of stopping and I braced for impact. I slammed right into the front left side of that SUV just behind the front wheel. Needless to say that car versus an SUV of that mammoth size (of which had the "sport bars" installed where the running boards) well, it didn't stand a chance. After the collision my Father who was already under heavy medication and was not really feeling well, just sat there groggy but seemed ok at the time. I myself was numb in my neck, back, wrist, right ankle and knee. I started to shake from adrenaline but I shrugged it off.
A young man approached me and said he saw the whole thing, he said to me "Hey man! I saw the whole thing, that guy ran through the stop sign. I am in a real hurry but here is my name and phone number, I gotta get my friends to their game". He pointed at a vehicle to my right, the very same vehicle that was on my right before. He was lucky, he missed the SUV and was further back from the intersection than myself and his vehicle had ABS brakes, lucky guy. He then left. I climbed out to asses the damage. The Impact was so severe the engine had already stopped cold. I looked at the front of the vehicle and saw that the front end was just crumpled there was coolant everywhere. The paramedics came and looked at me and the car, they asked me if I had any pain that I feel I should go to the hospital for or any broken bones, I was puzzled by that but said no. The Paramedics and Fire Department left (I still don't know who called them but I would really love to know if there were any more witnesses). I looked into the car and noticed that the entire steering wheel was bent into the dash, there was also significant damage to the dash around and under the steering wheel, and I thought to myself that it was a miracle I had no broken bones either. My Parents house was not far away, and my Mother, Sister and Brother In-Law (who were visiting from Alberta) all arrived within minutes, we were still waiting for the Police to arrive.
My Sister who is a Registered Nurse looked at my Father and me to make sure we were ok. Turns out my Dad had hit his head on the windshield; He had his seatbelt on so we assumed the impact wasn't that bad. My knee started to swell up at this time, so I knew I hurt it. The Police Officer talked to us then the person driving the SUV. The officer returned and told us that the person driving in the SUV kept saying "But I Stopped" and the officer explained to him that you just can't stop in the middle of the road and that he has already called the witness and verified my version of what happened, he persisted with the same response. The officer then said to him "So what you are telling me is that, that gentleman driving the brown car purposefully drove into you even though you were stopped? Do you see the tire marks there? The Other Driver again said the same thing. The officer stated that the Person driving the SUV has no idea what he has done and doesn't see it as anything wrong on his part. He issued the SUV driver a ticket for failing to yield. He wished us all the best and left. Later that night my knee was so swollen I could barely walk, I was also suffering from whiplash symptoms. My Father just laid in bed claiming he had a terrible headache. I went to the Medical Clinic near my house and the attending doctor told me that it looks like I have a ruptured bursa. This was because I had my right foot on the brake pedal and it slammed into the dash upon impact crushing my knee. I was off work for a couple of days, I tried to return to work after a couple of weeks and was having problems keeping on my feet. I was also in the middle of a transfer to another branch that was closer to my house. So upon arrival at this new branch the Manager was not very thrilled at my condition, he even demanded that I perform duties that I was advised not to do. My doctor and physiotherapist had even written a note to the Manager and informed him of my condition. My injuries got further aggravated and my doctor removed me from work and declared me disabled at that point. I was again at the point where I could not walk again. ICBC in their infinite wisdom were trying to get me back to work as soon as possible. My doctor stated after I had time to work and on a gradual basis only. So ICBC set it up with my Manager. After a couple of weeks just before I was to return, my Manager decided not to continue with the program and cancelled it. My employer at that time Acklands-Grainger did not Lay me off nor even give me an ROE they just left me in limbo. All the while ICBC was not providing me with any of my lost wages except for a small amount initially. They were claiming that the long term disability provider should pay for them. Now the long term disability provider was not coughing up anything either, the adjuster named Hugo Guzman (I am naming him because he was the Case Manager and did nothing but refuse to help) anyway, Mr. Guzman after being pursued by my lawyer at the time claimed first that they were not able to get a hold of my Doctor on the phone several times, a statement which my Doctor denies. He is a practicing Family Physician and cannot answer the phone whenever someone calls because he is with patients. However every person that calls can leave a message. There were never any messages left. After another follow-up by my lawyer they then claimed that they were awaiting for medical records, weeks later after my Doctor instead called Mr. Guzman himself, after I told him that he claimed to have called my Doctor several times. Mr. Guzman argued with my Doctor about my condition and whether I was disabled or not. My Doctor argued with him for a long time, and even reminded Mr. Guzman that he is not a practicing Physician or similar and had no say in what my injuries are. He also asked about why they are arguing with him, Mr. Guzman stated that "The X-Ray doesn't show anything". My doctor told him that this is a soft tissue injury, the X-Ray was to check for damage to the bones. Needless to say no progress was made in the conversation. So after a couple of weeks Maritime Life replied with a refusal to cover my wage loss. ICBC then said I have to get that from Employment Insurance now. EI refused to cover it because I did not have an ROE. Thus the circle continued. Weeks became months. I was at this point suffering from Depression and Anxiety attacks due to my car accident and the experiences there after. It took its toll on my personal life. I grew distant from my new friends here, I even lost my girlfriend because my emotional state was in such duress. To add insult to injury, my car was stolen later that year, again ICBC refused to pay for that either. I was interrogated by a Stewart Shore and a Tom Wagner for hours in an interview, which they did not mention that I could have a Lawyer present. The transcript was 55 pages long! They tried to imply that because I was tight for money that I had something to do with that theft of my car. I loved my car and everyone that knows me will say the same thing. The RCMP also supported my side, that there was forced entry and forced ignition. ICBC claimed that the damage was not enough to show that. Now with all this that was going on, I was prescribed medications for depression and also a powerful medication to help with the anxiety attacks. I had also then referred to a Psychologist to help with that. ICBC paid for a few treatments. My pain and discomfort continued, and my knee wasn't getting any better. At least I could walk with a cane or with a limp. I was then referred to an Orthopaedic Surgeon, who then sent me for an MRI. This proved to be unfruitful, he said to me that an MRI does not show everything but he knows that something is wrong, because of the symptoms he also said he will keep checking on my progress and if I don't improve, surgery will be the next alternative.
All of a sudden when ICBC got wind of this MRI and they had a new adjuster on the case, a Maureen Wylie. She refused to continue paying for any of the physio and counselling treatments I was getting after that even though the psychologist and my Doctor protested. My lawyer tried to make progress on that but got the response "We are not ready to entertain any more expenses for Mr. Mitha at this time". What the hell is that? I am now unemployed and with no source of income, I cannot continue any of these treatments for myself. How am I supposed to get better? My Lawyer then says to me that he cannot give my case the time it deserves, he tells me to find another lawyer and gives me my files and says no charge. I suffered with this condition for a while yet and after almost a year I secured employment with Wal-Mart. I was hired even though the hiring manager was aware of my injuries. He said to me that he was hiring me because I served in the Canadian Armed Forces when I was younger, as he was ex British Army. He knew that I had a good attitude and that he had faith that I would progress within the company. At this time I had obtained a new Lawyer who went after ICBC quite aggressively, I thought she would be good. When she took over my cases she hired a forensic locksmith to check out the car locks and so on., he stated that even the ICBC report supported my case so he has no idea why they would say such a thing and refuse to pay. I had a hunch, and I asked a lot of people at the Wal-Mart I work at about their experiences. You see my car was stolen at this same mall, and there were a lot of car thefts at this mall. A lot of employees have lost a vehicle that way at this mall and even till today I know of car thefts still occurring, Anyways in my questioning I discovered one really interesting thing, of all the people I asked about this the people that fit the category of racial profile the same as me, which is Dark/Middle Eastern or East Indian ethnicity, Young and Male all got the same treatment from ICBC, all were refused a settlement. I don't know about you, but that sounds like Racial Profiling to me.
To make matters worst my Lawyers true colours were showing, sure she went to court for 1 day to deal with the car theft issue, but even after we were making progress, she decided not to continue with the case, claiming that it would be too expensive now. She was quite aware of what was involved but never once stated the cost might be too much before the fact. At this point I noticed that she stopped keeping me updated of my case nor did she respond to any of my requests for a resolution for my case with ICBC. I needed money because I was in Severe Debt due to that year off I had without employment or wage coverage. I had borrowed money from friends and my credit which was R1 before the accident was now an R9, it was destroyed! Because I could not pay my bills. Now all the while I was working my condition got slightly better then again started to deteriorate slowly. I continued to wear a brace and work through the pain. I still got promoted to my favourite, electronics. I used to work for Futureshop back in the day, I loved the gadgets but I couldn't stand working in that kind of environment where money making came first, d**n the customers and your co-workers was their attitude. No sir, not for me. I was worried about my condition though. I used to ride mountain bikes hard before this accident, and even spent a large sum on my bike, but it sat there collecting dust. I could no longer ride it for more than 15 minutes without feeling pain. I was gaining weight, now 205lbs when I used to be 165lbs. I was also weaker, my whiplash was never dealt with properly. I still suffer from excruciating migraines and pain in my neck and back on a regular basis. My Doctor prescribed Imitrex for the Migraines. My injuries were starting to interfere with my work, and seeing as the manager who hired me has gone off to other things, the new manager were never made aware of my physical limitations and it reflects poorly on me, I think this has affecting my ability to progress further within the company.
I went for a follow up with the Surgeon and he decided that due to my condition and pain that surgery is recommended. The date set was January, I advised my lawyer about it. I never heard from her after that. In December I found out that she was suspended for various reasons by the law society. So now I again needed to find another lawyer. So conveniently ICBC decided that they would like to set up a discovery meeting with me, and they were well aware that my lawyer was no longer practicing due to the fact they tried to contact her several times. So I asked everyone I knew for a new lawyer. I got a lead to contact a law professor who practices law. I contacted him, and the same week after my knee surgery he personally came to see me and discuss matters. He is now my acting lawyer, and he is seems to be very good at what he does. As for my previous lawyer, she is trying to get payment for services she claims to have done and is even charging for photocopying and even stationary right down to staples and paperclips, she has a lot of fines to pay. Might as well make others suffer more so she can pay off her fines huh?
Now it turns out that the tissue behind my knee cap was haemorrhaged, and they had to cut all of the damaged tissue out. Something I pray I never have to go through again. I was in a lot of pain after that and still am in a little pain. Its April now and I am off the cane, after a lot of intense physio. To my surprise ICBC agreed to pay for the physio to my knee, only because it is directly related to my injury in the accident. Here's the kicker though, the adjuster specifically stated in a threatening manner to the physiotherapy clinic "I do not want to see any charges for the neck and back!" That is just disgusting, they continue on their attitude towards my injuries. The physiotherapist knows that I am still suffering from pain and has treated my neck and back at no charge. He knows that ICBC is very ignorant in the way they treat injuries. Its all about the dollars, not the person. It almost as if that, if you don't heal fast enough for their standards they refuse to help you anymore. I hope that one day soon people will rise up against that fascist regime. We deserve better than that, what is the point of paying for insurance when its a nightmare just to get your coverage? I hope to return to work later this month. I hope that I will be ok to stand on my feet all day. I am only able to do about 4 hours right now, I don't think that there are any desk jobs for me at work. I also have to wait for the surgeon's approval for me to return to work, without that I cannot return. I am glad though that I am getting medical EI, although it is only 55% of my normal wage, and is not enough to survive on. That's another thing that isn't right. I have to pay that back when ICBC finally makes a settlement. So why can t they give me more than the 55%? I asked and the response I get is "because those are the rules", there should be an alternative for people who have to pay it back anyway. It's not like the government is losing anything by giving me more.
Unfortunately I was the bread earner in the family and I helped my parents out. My dad who was also injured in this accident had suffered a brain injury due to it, he cannot work due to his poor health and my mom takes care of him. Unfortunately he was lowballed by ICBC and he had a poor lawyer that was also reprimanded by the law society for his practice habits. My advise, never and I mean never hire a lawyer that you saw in an ad in your local newspaper. There's a reason they are advertising, they don't have enough clients!!! Good lawyers rarely or never advertise aggressively. Also don't get onboard with that Prepaid Legal bull, I was with them and they didn't want to even take my case right from the start, can you believe that? What a joke.
*UPDATE* I am trying work out now for 4 to 6 hours a day. It is very painful for me as I now have a rotated pelvis. This is because my physio was stopped prematurely by ICBC and also because I was walking on a bad knee for so long. My knee still hurts, but the back is far more painful, It even aggravated my neck injuries and my migraines have returned. I cant even sleep properly anymore, but what can I do? I have to work to make ends meet.
Coquitlam, British Columbia