ICBC still is unable to make reasonable offers to settle in many personal injury cases despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars updating their computer systems and firing over 250 mostly managers. The promise of “firm but fair” offer seems to have turned to “firmly unfair” thanks to ICBC.
In the most recent case of Sebaa v. Ricci, 2016 BCSC 622, the injury claimant, after serious negotiation, made a final offer of $345,000 to settle one week before the trial. This offer was rejected by the ICBC insured. An eight-day trial proceeded and the Supreme Court awarded the claimant $509,780.88, the net amount after ICBC Total Temporary Disability benefits were deducted.
Rule 9-1 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules governs costs where formal offers to settle have been made. Rule 9-1 encourages early settlements, rewards a party making reasonable offers, and penalizes the party who declines to accept a reasonable settlement offer.
Aspects of some of the claimant’s injuries were straightforward but others, such as the causes of her chronic pain and psychiatric problems, less so. The nature and extent of the claims were defined and addressed in the reports of seven experts and there were no surprises at trial. As the judge pointed out:
 As for the relationship between the plaintiff’s offers and the court’s award of $509,788, net, the plaintiff’s first relevant offer made on March 3, 2015 is $15,000 less than the award. The second offer on March 9, 2015, was $150,000 less than the first offer and $165,000 less than what the court awarded at trial.
 It was evident at trial that the plaintiff was reluctant to proceed to trial and found the litigation process emotionally trying. She and her husband had moved to Qatar. Coming back to have the case tried reminded her of what she had experienced. She was a very private person and resisted discussing personal matters, even with caregivers. When she returned from Qatar to complete medical legal examinations for her case, she refused to attend one of the appointments set up by her own counsel because she found the process too difficult
The judge punished ICBC and awarded double costs against the defendant for failing to accept a reasonable offer. The offer of $345,000 was reasonably capable of acceptance, given the evidence available to the ICBC and the apparent litigation risks. However they decided to go to trial anyway, wasting court time and creating more upset and suffering for this car accident victim.
Learn more about ICBC’s inability to make reasonable offers to settle.
Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.