Getting an award for legal costs in car accident personal injury cases just got easier in British Columbia. At issue in this ICBC out of court settlement case(Christen v. McKenzie,2013 BCSC 1317) was whether the claimant was entitled to the full amount of $6,500 attributed to preparation under Rule 15-1(15)(a) of the Civil Rules ($8,000 total – $1,500 for the first day of trial = $6,500 for preparation) or a lesser amount, as argued by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, ICBC.
This case arose out of a car accident that occurred in British Columbia. ICBC and the injury claimant settled the case about 7.5 months before the trial and the settlement was to be plus reasonable legal costs. They could not agree on the amount of legal costs that should be awarded and therefore applied to the court for a decision. Supreme Court Judge Arnold-Bailey decided in favour of the injury claimant stating at paragraph 35 of her reasons,
To my mind significant preparation for trial ought to be sufficient to entitle the successful party to costs for pre-trial preparation to the full amount of the cap, presently $6,500 pursuant to Rule 15-1(15). Pre-trial preparation may take various forms given the demands of the particular action. Whether the parties engage in extensive negotiations or mediation and thus achieve a settlement months or days before trial, the preparation by counsel may easily approach that required to actually conduct the trial. The focus ought to be on the amount of useful preparatory work done and not where in the pre-trial timeline the resolution was reached. Indeed, the focus of Rule 15-1 and the Civil Rules generally is to encourage early and fulsome preparation to resolve cases earlier as opposed to later if possible; and also to limit the scope of the proposed trial to what is truly at issue, thus reducing the time and costs associated with resolving the dispute.
ICBC also refused to pay the trust administration fee, which is an obvious expense to the claimant, incurred when the claimant hires a lawyer to assist them. The courts have already found this claim to be reasonable in many other cases and the judge felt compelled to say, “ I note that the plaintiff’s claim for the trust administration fee of $10 plus $1.20 in taxes is not now disputed by the defendant McKenzie and the third party. The following authorities support it being claimed: Parrotta v. Bodnar, 2006 BCSC 787 at para. 25; Polubinski v. Twardowski, 2007 BCSC 843; and McCreight v. Currie, 2008 BCSC 1751. Therefore the plaintiff’s claim for $11.20 in relation to the trust administration fee (including tax) is successful.”
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.