ICBC is now forced to pay double costs on behalf of their insured after failing to accept several reasonable offers to settle this personal injury claim. ICBC’s unreasonable conduct forced this claimant to pursue this car accident litigation for over 10 years to obtain an award of over $700,000.00 from the court for soft tissue injuries to her neck, shoulders and back as well as a pain disorder.( Litt v. Guo,2016 BCSC 295)

ICBC’s refusal to pay reasonable value for injury cases appears to be costing them millions of dollars and increasing the cost on personal injury claims in BC. Not only is ICBC wasting money bullying claimants, their policies are destroying the lives of innocent victims of personal injury.

This injury case arose from two car accidents. The first occurred in Richmond on Bridgeport Road when the vehicle driven by the defendant turned left in front of them, leading to a collision. Almost 7 years later, in 2010 the claimant was travelling  on Highway 91 when her vehicle was rear-ended by a pickup truck.

The offers by the claimant that were in issue here are:

·    7 days before trial- $682,000.

·    4 days before trial $647,000. .

·   23 days before trial$550,000.

ICBC offered to settle for $375,000 7 days before trial and increased it to a final offer $456,708.07 only 5 days away from trial. This litigation had been going on for over 10 years and ICBC appeared to wait until 5 days before trial to make their highest offer. This caused the claimant and the court to incur significant unnecessary costs.

In awarded the claimant double costs for ICBC’s insured’s failure to accept a reasonable offer the judge comments:

[34] The disparity of about $150,000 between that offer and the ultimate award also weighs in favour of an award of double costs…

[36]   As to other relevant factors that have been put forward, I am not persuaded that the length of the trial would make an order of double costs unduly punitive. This was obviously going to be a lengthy trial, in keeping with the magnitude of the damages being sought and the complexity of the issues, and on a policy basis the consequences of a party’s failure to settle appropriately should increase in keeping with the extent of the court resources that are expended as a result of that failure…

[41] …there is no evidence at all here that any intransigence on settlement was motivated by an honest but ultimately mistaken view of the claim.

[42]  The inference I draw is that this had become, as I said earlier, a question of numbers between the parties, in which the defendants elected to take a stand in the face of an offer that was well within the range that could be expected after trial. I think that qualifies as unreasonable conduct for the purposes of the Rule.

[43]   As a result I order that the plaintiff will receive double costs from a point slightly after the delivery of her formal offer to settle of October 24, 2014, to recognize a reasonable period within which it could have been considered. In all the circumstances I think that the date that should be used is October 26, 2014.

Watch our short video to learn more about how judges value personal injury cases in BC.

Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.

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