There’s one question that British Columbia car accident attorneys hear every day: “How much will my ICBC settlement be?” If only the answer was a simple one.
The frustrating truth is that no one can guarantee how much you will receive from ICBC if you’ve been injured in a wreck. Far too many deserving people are denied compensation every day. But you stand a better chance of getting a fair payout with an experienced ICBC lawyer by your side.
Talk to a knowledgeable Vancouver car accident attorney at Warnett Hallen LLP today. For decades, our respected trial lawyers have successfully represented accident victims in ICBC claims throughout the province. We can help you, too.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our trusted attorneys today. We can start fighting for a settlement that truly reflects the extent of your physical, financial, and emotional losses.
Call or contact us now to get started.
No Magic Formula for ICBC Settlements
ICBC claims are settled on a case-by-case basis. There is no universal formula that is applied to all claims. That means that even cases with similar facts may settle for very different amounts.
However, there are some factors that ICBC always takes into account before making a settlement offer. The most important one is the scope of the victim’s losses.
While no dollar amount is certain, you can expect that:
- Car accident victims with severe or catastrophic injuries will receive a larger ICBC settlement than someone who suffers from mild or temporary injuries.
- People whose injuries require them to miss work for a week aren’t going to get as large a payout as individuals whose job duties must change after a collision.
- ICBC settlements will be limited to property damage only for people with no physical or emotional injuries.
Seems logical, right? To a degree, yes. But there’s a problem.
The claims process can be manipulated in ICBC’s favor, and adjusters are trained in many different ways to do that.
Protect yourself by speaking with a Vancouver car accident attorney at Warnett Hallen LLP to learn your legal options.
Factors That Impact ICBC Settlements and Payouts
ICBC evaluates the extent of a victim’s losses in many ways. Several factors will contribute to a settlement offer, including:
- The severity of injuries: The greater the harm, the more compensation that a victim is entitled to.
- Degree of disability: Will you be living with lifelong disabilities that impact your capacity to earn a living, participate in daily activities, or perform routine self-care? A fair ICBC settlement will account for those types of losses.
- Possibility of recovery: You should never accept an ICBC settlement until you have fully healed or, in the case of a permanent injury, as much as can reasonably expect. This determination should be made by a doctor and will play a huge role in how much your settlement may be.
- Attempts to reduce harm: Did you take active measures to reduce the severity of your injury? Examples include seeking immediate medical attention, following doctor’s orders, and attending all physiotherapy appointments as directed. Failure to do so could give ICBC grounds to say that your inaction made your injuries worse.
- Loss of income: Auto accident victims who are forced to miss work due to their injuries lose wages when they need them most. Proper proof of your time off and the amount of lost income will impact the size of your settlement.
- Fault: Do you share fault for the accident with another driver or another party? If so, your payout will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
- Pre-existing condition(s): Did you have any medical problems before the crash occurred? That can limit your payout. For example, someone with a documented shoulder injury pre-accident may obtain a lower ICBC settlement, even if the crash made the injury worse.
- Age: The older the accident victim, the more likely ICBC will argue for a lower settlement amount due to the person’s shorter life expectancy. However, B.C. courts have enforced the Golden Years Doctrine in some cases, which means a person’s payout should not necessarily be limited based on their age. For example, a person severely injured in an auto accident during retirement age may lose the ability to travel and see the world as they had intended. They should not be penalized with a lowball ICBC settlement offer.
- Future needs: Has the accident made you incapable of performing any work? Will your home need renovations to accommodate new assistive medical devices? If your injuries have taken away your independence and you require round-the-clock care, your ICBC settlement should reflect that with a larger payout.
- Legal representation: Studies show that people who choose to represent themselves in accident claims tend to have less favorable outcomes than those with legal counsel. That’s because skilled ICBC lawyers know what damages you are entitled to and how to put a fair value on a claim.
- Pain and suffering: Have you lost enjoyment of life, suffered mental anguish or experienced humiliation as a result of the crash? Pain and suffering can be accounted for in an ICBC settlement, though recent changes to the law have capped the amount of pain and suffering awards for certain B.C. accident victims.
Because so many factors can make a difference in your final settlement payout, getting an attorney’s help during negotiations can be critical. A skilled lawyer can investigate your claim to prevent ICBC from shortchanging you from the money you need and are owed.
ICBC Settlement Process
The path to an ICBC settlement depends on the circumstances of the case and what types of disputes may arise. But there is a general process that you can use as a guide.
- Call 911: Get law enforcement and paramedics on the accident scene as soon as possible, especially if there are injuries.
- Seek medical treatment: You must be able to prove to ICBC that you did everything in your power to reduce the likelihood of further injury or losses. This is called “mitigating damages.” Your payout can be significantly reduced if you didn’t take reasonable steps to lessen the damage.
- Get your accident report: Obtain your auto accident report from the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene. This will be an important part of your claim later on.
- Report the accident to ICBC: You must notify ICBC of your wreck by telephone or online, regardless of who is at fault. Failure to do so could drastically affect your ability to recover compensation.
- Get your car repaired: A claims adjuster will notify you within 30 days to evaluate the damage to your vehicle, either in person or at an ICBC-certified repair shop. At this time, you may also be asked for a recorded statement about the accident and your injuries. Our attorneys can advise you on what information you should — and should not — share with ICBC.
- File for Part VII/No-Fault Benefits: Your Basic Autoplan coverage entitles you to reimbursement for up to $150,000 medical and rehabilitation expenses, no matter who was at fault for the accident. You are also entitled to benefits for lost wages, homemaker benefits, and death benefits. Part VII claims must be filed with ICBC within 30 days of the accident.
- File a tort claim against a liable driver: If another driver is at least partly at fault for your accident, you can file a tort claim for compensation. This claim is entirely separate from your claim for no-fault benefits through your Basic Autoplan coverage. At this stage, it’s highly recommended that you are represented by an attorney. Your settlement amount will largely depend on who is at fault, and ICBC will do whatever it can to place the blame on you. You have 2 years to file a tort claim against another driver in British Columbia.
- Heal from your injuries: ICBC will make a settlement offer early in your recovery process. Never accept it. Many injured people will have no idea what their long-term needs will be right away. Warnett Hallen LLP always advises clients to wait for medical clearance before settling.
- Enter settlement negotiations: Many car accident cases can be resolved out of court. Our experienced trial lawyers will always attempt to obtain a full and fair settlement for you without filing a lawsuit. However, if no agreement can be reached, we will be fully prepared to sue on your behalf.
- Start trial preparations: During this phase, called discovery, your lawyer and ICBC will begin gathering information to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s cases. Both sides will have a chance to ask questions.
- Try mediation: Your case still might not need to go to trial. During mediation, you and your lawyer sit down with representatives from ICBC to try to reach a settlement with the help of an unbiased third party.
- Get ready for trial: If mediation fails, it may be time to take your case to trial. Most ICBC cases settle before reaching the trial stage, simply because it is cheaper and less risky.
NOTE: Car accidents that occurred on or after April 1, 2019 may follow a different path towards settlement. Any disputes with ICBC about the severity of your injuries must be evaluated by a Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). The CRT can decide:
- Whether an injury qualifies as “minor”
- Who is responsible for a wreck
- Whether you are entitled to accident benefits
- All ICBC injury settlement claims for under $50,000
Claims over $50,000 will still go through to the B.C. Supreme Court.
Dedicated Vancouver ICBC Lawyers Who Settle For More
Warnett Hallen LLP is proud of the awards that we have been able to secure for our clients. Our attorneys have recovered multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements for victims and families injured in B.C. auto accidents. Check out some of our ICBC success stories here.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Vancouver or anywhere in British Columbia, getting just compensation from ICBC can be a challenge. Contact the talented legal team at Warnett Hallen LLP today. We’ll fight for you to get the results that you deserve.
Call or contact us now to arrange your free, no-obligation consultation.