How much ICBC pays for injury claims will plummet after May, 2021. Most will not have lawyers. ICBC settlements in 2021 will be unlike any other year in our history. Car accident injury claimants after May 1, 2021 will no longer be given compensation for loss of enjoyment of life. Let’s explain ICBC settlements for 2021 and review key changes for 2021.
ICBC Settlements and Covid-19
An offer to settle to ICBC should be considered by ICBC if going to court will put people in danger of contracting Covd-19. In Johnson v. Heer, 2020 BCSC 1751, uplifted costs were ordered against ICBC after the Court considered the offers to settle. “Attendance at this trial was not essential and it exposed the plaintiff, her husband, her mother, her counsel and defence counsel to an increased risk of exposure to the virus”. Covid-19 will therefore encourage settlements in 2021. Unwilling parties will pay further costs for unreasonable delay.
Settling Without a Lawyer
In the new system lawyers will not be able to sue the guilty driver. There will longer be settlements as against ICBC. The amount of ICBC settlements in the last year plummeted compared to cases going to trial. ICBC settlement funds in 2021 may never been broken down. This is due to ICBC unusual decision to keep accident benefits open.
The term “Enhanced Care” has come to replace No-Fault auto insurance for the injury benefits from monopoly ICBC. Enhance Care limits ICBC requirement to pay accident benefits. It limits the guilty drivers requirement to pay the real cost of rehabilitation. ICBC Minor Injury laws apply to accident occurring on or after April 1, 2019 to May 1, 2021. The Enhanced Accident Benefits Regulation set limits on recovery and eliminates the right of innocent victims to pursue financial justice. As a result ICBC does not have to settle, there will be no case to settle and claimant are to receive no compensation for loss of enjoyment of life.
Getting a Lawyer for ICBC Settlements
It could still prove valuable to hire a lawyer if your accident occurred before May, 2021. Although it is likely that for car accidents after May, 2021, ICBC Claimants will be able to hire a lawyer on a percentage. The disbursements and medical management will therefore have to be supervised and paid for by the claimant. This is due to the change to No-Fault auto insurance which the NDP refers to as “Enhanced Care”.
ICBC Settlement Case Examples
So far this year there have been few cases that have changed the settlement law in a significant way. The Court of Appeal however upheld refused double costs in 2021. This was despite the claimant obtaining a higher award than the pre-trial settlement offer. In Findlay v. George, 2021 BCCA 12 the Court of appeal found:
- It was not improper for the judge to consider the availability of this material, even though some of it did not make its way before the jury.
- The trial judge is in the best position to assess the reasonableness of the decision to reject a settlement offer.
On February 19, 2021 the ICBC Settlement case of Sidhu v. Alton, awarded a claimant no double costs for beating an offer to settle. The claimant made an offer to settle to ICBC for $450,000 and was awarded over $513,000.00. However, the claimant was entitled to $451,599.46. In awarding no double costs the court accepted that the defendants did not engage in any unreasonable litigation conduct that would merit an award of double costs.
Disbursements and Expert Evidence Regulation
This new legislation came into force February 12, 2021 denying injury claimant compensation for the reasonable case costs. ICBC is taking advantage of this change by refusing to pay claimants for thousands of dollars spent to prosecute their cases. These changes apply retro-actively to most injury claims and could wipe out fair compensation for many innocent victims of personal injury. Successful injury claimant’s case expense compensation is now limited to 6% of the award for most case. There are many costs that may no longer be covered such as process server fees, investigation ;couriers; photocopying; expert fees; witness fees; cost to obtain records; travel costs; Mediation costs; and Examination for discovery costs. The future funding of injury litigation hangs in the balance as the Trial Lawyers Association of BC plans to challenge to law as illegal.