My experience as a Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer allows me to share a few unique insights into ICBC negotiated settlements. Settlement with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia when you don’t have a lawyer is inherently unequal. ICBC is a sophisticated insurance company with the experience of settling thousands of personal injury cases. Claimants often have no medical or legal training and no experience negotiating for significant amounts of money.
My personal injury clients get the distinct advantage of having the experience my personal injury law firm on their side to review the facts and law specific to their case. For those roughing it alone I do however have a some general legal information which I hope will of some assistance:
1. Listen Carefully to the ICBC offer of Settlement
The details of the settlement offer including the wording of the release can make a big difference to what you may get. Usually there are at least two parts to an offer: the damages, and the costs. Damages compensate you for your loss and costs compensate for your case expenses.
The offer from ICBC will be to settle your accident benefits claim, your tort claim or both. You may also be entitled to make an underinsured motorist claim, under insured motorist claim, or a hit and run claim with ICBC depending on the facts of your case.
2. Learn about the Value of Your Personal Injury Claim
Information really is power and there are now reliable resources that examine the value of personal injury cases in BC, use them! The upper limit for money awards for pain and suffering set by the Supreme Court of Canada, adjusted for inflation, was recently found to be $351,000.
3. Litigate or Capitulate- Knowing when to Move Ahead with your ICBC Case
Sometimes cases get stalled because ICBC has made an offer which is too low for the claimant to accept. In this situation the claimant must be proactive in deciding quickly whether to settle or file the lawsuit with the court. Injury claimants typically have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a Notice of Civil Claim or the lawsuit will be out of time. There are exceptions to the two year rule which are not discussed in this article.
Finally, when a money figure is reached which both the injury claimant and ICBC can accept, the case settles. Most often the claimant is required to sign a release of all claims so that the claimant cannot sue for the same accident injury again in the future. If the lawsuit has already been filed then a dismissal order may have to be filed with the court by consent.
Before you negotiate with ICBC watch our short video and learn even more about negotiating and settling with ICBC: