In Patterson v. Solymosi 2019 BCSC 1508, the injured claimant suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and back, as well as a labral tear to her right hip, in a motor vehicle accident. As a result of her injuries, she was limited in her ability to function as a special education teacher which involved sitting continuously with special needs children. The expert evidence also indicated that she had a reduced capacity to be employable. At trial, the trial judge awarded her $251,482.00:
- $95,000.00 for pain and suffering
- $21,000.00 for past wage loss
- $100,000.00 for future loss of earning capacity
- $28,486.00 for future care costs
- $6,996.08 for special damages (reimbursement of out of pocket expenses)
Before the trial, the injured claimant made a settlement offer to ICBC in the amount of $150,000.00. ICBC did not accept this offer and instead ICBC’s settlement offer was for $36,882.00 which was 15% of the trial award and $215,000.00 less than the trial award.
As the injured claimant beat her settlement offer at trial, she brought an application seeking double costs from ICBC for failing to accept her offer (Patterson v. Solymosi 2020 BCSC 948). The purpose of double costs is to require litigants to make a careful assessment of the strength or lack thereof of their cases, to discourage the continuation of doubtful cases or defences and to encourage litigants to settle wherever possible thus freeing up judicial resources for other cases.
The trial judge concluded that the injured claimant’s offer was one that should have been accepted by ICBC and double costs were awarded to her.
Notably, the trial judge found that ICBC had considerable medical evidence addressing her injuries and namely the hip injury which was the central issue. Furthermore, the ICBC adjuster before trial identified a range of $40,000.00 to $100,000.00 for pain and suffering. This is quite disturbing seeing that ICBC’s settlement offer of approximately $37,000.00 was considerably less than its own assessment of pain and suffering without even taking into consideration her income loss.
While the NDP and ICBC are telling the public that injured claimants and legal costs are driving up insurance rates, this case serves as a perfect example of what is actually happening. It is ICBC’s own mismanagement and disregard for the injured which forces cases to trial which otherwise should have been settled wasting thousands and thousands of dollars.
In this case, if ICBC had accepted the injured claimant’s settlement offer of $150,000.00 instead of offering her $37,000.00 which was 15% of the overall award, ICBC would not only have saved $100,000.00 in damages (the difference between the injured claimant’s settlement offer and the trial award), it also would have saved tens of thousands of dollars of trial costs.