This personal injury claimant beat her offer of settlement made 7 days before trial. As a result the Judge awarded the claimant double costs. The claimant was involved in a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Lougheed Highway and Pinetree Way in Coquitlam, B.C. in which the claimant suffered mild to moderate soft tissue injuries and a concussion.(Yip v. Saran,2014 BCSC 1593). In some ICBC injury claims special circumstances have been held to apply, even in Fast Track cases, where a reasonable offer to settle was made but not accepted allowing claimants to obtain double costs.
The claimant offered to settle for the sum of $72,604.96 (new money) plus court order interest, party and party costs at Scale B and all proper and reasonable disbursements. The judge awarded $72,802.02 plus court order interest.
The judge concluded that the offer to settle was one that ought reasonably to have been accepted. The offer was made shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin, but there was no reason to say that the defendant or ICBC had insufficient time to consider it. As he pointed out, “The offer was made after the parties had attended a trial management conference… the total amount of the judgment is very close to the amount of the offer to settle. I see this as a factor favouring the plaintiff… Therefore, in my opinion, based on the offer to settle, the plaintiff is entitled to double costs for the five days of the trial. I adopt the methodology that was used by Mr. Justice Affleck in Peacock. That is, is $6,500 for pre-trial costs, double costs for five days of trial at $1,500 each, so that totals (after the costs are doubled) $15,000. This results in total costs of $21,500.”
Issue: Should ICBC and other insurance companies have to pay double costs automatically if the court awards more than a claimant’s offer to settle?