David Eby and his NDP government have been very vocal about ICBC’s financial problems. Instead of making changes to ICBC’s management who are responsible for its policies and procedures that are clearly not working, the changes made are directed at injured claimants by eroding their rights. Shouldn’t the ICBC executive who are responsible for how ICBC operates be held accountable? Why are they still receiving their bonuses and increased salaries while remaining in charge of a failing corporation?
Inadequate, unreasonable and late offers to settle made by ICBC often costs the corporation substantial amounts of money. This is especially true when injured claimants, who are forced to trial in order to obtain fair results from our justice system, are vindicated with a judgment that far exceeds pre-trial offers to settle.
The trial of this matter took place for 11 days. Based on the evidence, the trial judge found that the injured claimant, who was in her early 30s at the time of the motor vehicle accident, suffered serious injuries that had a significant impact on her life. Her injuries, some of which were frequently debilitating, also caused a re-occurrence of depression which changed her personality and relationships. They furthermore had a major impact on her working capacity and her ability to progress in her chosen career. Following the trial, the judge awarded the injured claimant $440,059.00 representing damages awarded for pain and suffering, loss of income, cost of future care and special damages.
Prior to trial, the injured claimant made a very reasonable offer to settle in the amount of $200,000.00. ICBC, in turn, made a very low and inadequate offer of $110,977.00.
In analyzing whether double costs were to be awarded to the injured claimant by ICBC for failing to accept her reasonable offer, the court considered the following factors:
- Whether the offer ought reasonable to have been expected – the court ruled that ICBC had sufficient knowledge of the injured claimant’s case through expert evidence and witness interviews to properly assess the offer and that it was unreasonably refused. This weighed in favour of double costs.
- The relationship between the final offer and the judgment – the court ruled that the injured claimant’s offer of $200,000.00 was clearly exceeded at trial with the result being more than double that amount. This weighed in favour of double costs.
- The relative financial circumstances of the parties – the court found that there was no evidence that granting or declining to awarded double costs would place an undue financial burden on either party. This was considered to be a neutral factor in relation to double costs.
Based on the weighing of these factors, the judge awarded the injured claimant double costs payable by ICBC.
End Result = Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Wasted by ICBC
The end result is that ICBC ended up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars that it easily could have avoided by accepting the very reasonable offer to settle made by the injured claimant prior to trial.