This unrepresented ICBC injury claimant was awarded $1,500 for two car accident injuries but was required to pay $19,00.00 in legal costs to the other side ( 2015 BCSC 940) after refusing to accept an ICBC offer of $40,000. There were serious credibility and evidence issues in the personal injury case. The amount awarded does not reflect the amount of money to be awarded in Supreme Court when represented by a personal injury lawyer as Supreme Court is reserved for cases that are worth $25,000 or more.
The claimant was involved in two motor vehicle accidents in Kelowna, British Columbia and fault had been admitted in both  lawsuits. The defendants insurer, ICBC, took the position that the claimant suffered no injuries from the accidents and her complaints were consistent with pre-existing injuries suffered by her as a result of five previous motor vehicle accidents. Despite not having a lawyer the claimant took her injury claims to court on her own.
Before the accidents in question the claimant had pled guilty to fraud and providing false and misleading information. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail, a $10,000 fine and probation. Despite this the judge did not form the impression that the claimant was lying in the presentation of her evidence.
The reality however was that her recall of events was very dim,vague, conflicting, and unreliable. No other lay witnesses were called by the claimant to corroborate her evidence as to her injuries and how her life has been affected by them. As the judge pointed out:

[32]  The other and more important matter is that [the claimant] has utterly failed to marshal any independent corroborating evidence in support of her claim which might be consistent with the nature of her alleged further injuries. Defence counsel has referred to the many authorities that discuss heightened scrutiny in such situations, such as Price v. Kostryba (1982), 70 B.C.L.R. 397 (S.C.).

[33]  Of particular importance is that there is no medical evidence in support of [the claimant’s] claim, either in respect of the causation of injuries arising from the January and September 2010 accidents or whether pre-existing conditions were aggravated and, if so, what was the extent of any injuries or any aggravation of injuries. I agree with the defence that, in these circumstances, such evidence was necessary on these complex issues: Deo v. Wong, 2008 BCCA 110 at paras. 19-20.

[34] No clinical records after December 2009 were in evidence and no medical professionals testified as to [the claimant’s] reporting of symptoms or treatment recommendations from that time

The claimant was awarded the sum of $1,000 in respect of the first accident and $500 in respect of the second car accident. In the ordinary course the claimant would have been awarded her costs in both car accident . However, there was an ICBC offer in the amount of $21,000 and a further offer in the amount of $40,000. As the judge concluded

“Clearly, those offers substantially exceed the result in this trial and, in my view, should reasonably have been accepted… I am satisfied that a double costs award is appropriate: Gichuru v. Pallai, 2013 BCCA 60. Accordingly, costs are awarded in favour of the defendants in the sum of $19,000 plus reasonable disbursements..”

 The award of double costs may be clearly wrong as the Court of Appeal  recently found double costs awards against claimants that do not accept a reasonable offer to settle to be unfair. Unfortunately the recent and important case of C.P. v. RBC Life Insurance Company, 2015 BCCA 30 was not considered by this judge.

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