Quick Answer: “A Case Settles for what it is Worth”
As a young lawyer I was told by my mentor Thomas O. Griffiths a case settles for what is it worth and was quickly put to work researching caselaw. I had a hard time understanding what he meant because you never know how much the case will settle for until the case settles! Furthermore, there are no maximum or minimum limits to the worth and value of an ICBC personal injury claim.
After many years as a personal injury lawyer my mind has kept coming back to this very simple but confusing phrase. Having settling hundreds of personal injury cases I am now just starting to understand what Mr. Griffiths meant. Although legal insight must be gained and not bestowed, it may be well worth it for those wanting more insight into valuing their ICBC claim to take advantage of following three important rules I have learned to determine the value of a personal injury case:
1. Your Case is Worth Nothing if you are at Fault
Except for ICBC benefits, if you are fully to blame for the car accident then there is no money compensation claim against the other driver. Unlike WCB, EI and other government benefits it must be established that someone esle was the cause of your injury and is legally liable for your loss.
The basic rule of law allowing a claim for personal injury is quite simple – You must not injure persons who are so closely and directly affected by your actions that you ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when you are directing your mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.
So for example, if a judge finds that the other driver is 60% at fault for your injury, then you will be awarded 40% of the value of your case. There are of course lots of other exceptions that lawyers never overlook but are not discussed in this article.
2. You Need a Medical Reason to Claim Loss of Income
If you have decided to just take time off work without seeing a doctor or getting an assessment by a healthcare provider chances are you won’t get compensated for your time off work. Injuries may be obvious at the time but if not properly documented may be hard or even impossible to prove.
Here is a recent case in which the claimant got zero because there was no medical evidence of injury. The case presented to the court by the claimant was devoid of medical evidence and opinion and the claimant failed to meet the burden of proof.
However, it is not necessary to establish that the other driver’s negligence was the sole cause of your injury to get compensation for loss of wages. As long as the other driver’s actions are part of the cause of an injury, that driver is liable, even though his act alone was not enough to create the injury.
3. If you Can’t Work, you Can’t Play- Money for Pain and Suffering
A judge, and ICBC adjuster for that matter, is unlikely to accept that you have been disabled from work if during that same period you were vacationing or engaging in recreational activities. It may sound like a great idea to get back to your bowling league while off work but it could cost you your income loss claim! Courts will also evaluate your overall function and impairment in determining how much to award you for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
As a result a classification of cases has over time produced what some have called a tariff type assessment system. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that an award of damages will be a wholly erroneous estimate if it is, “inordinately high, low or disproportionate [to the circumstances of the case]”, that is, if it “falls substantially beyond the upper or lower range for damage awards in the same class of case.”
So whether your ICBC case is worth $5,000, $10,000, $30,000, $50,000, $100,000, $150,000, $200,000 or even $350,000 or more can be assessed before going to court and an out of court settlement negotiated in most cases. The key is to have the knowledge and experience on your side so when the claim is ready to settle it settles closer to an amount that will satisfy you. Learn more about settling with ICBC and watch our short video:
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.