Smagh v. Bumbrah, 2010 BCSC 988
July 16, 2010- The case arose from a motor vehicle accident in which ICBC admitted their insured was at fault. A process of mediation (settlement meeting) took place but was unsuccessful. The following day, ICBC made a formal offer to settle of $20,000.00 plus taxable costs and disbursements which the claimant rejected. The trial was before a jury. It lasted 10 days and the jury awarded the claimant $2,200.00.

The jury awarded substantially less than the offer. ICBC was awarded their costs (contribution toward legal fees) and their expenses from a week following their offer to the end of the trial. In not awarding double costs the court was prepared to consider the financial circumstances of the injury claimant. They are poor. She invested in a laundry business which has now failed. The lender holds a claim over her home. As well, she is responsible for some or all of a $62,000 personal guarantee given in connection with the business.
The claimant has begun working at a small firm on an as-needed basis for $11 per hour. She is unable to pay her bills. She owes her personal injury law firm some $40,000 for the expenses of the case.
Ultimately from a $2,200.00 award the claimant was ordered to pay ICBC $43,720.00 in legal fees and expenses. Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness

Issue: Should the financial circumstance of an injury claimant be taken into account if they lose at trial and are required to pay back ICBC for legal fees and expenses?


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