The personal injury lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP are frequently asked by injured victims when and if they should settle their ICBC claims. ICBC often puts pressure on injured victims to settle their ICBC claims. It benefits ICBC to settle claims as quickly as possible so they can save administrative costs and pay as little as possible to the injured person. Here are some of the major factors that you should consider in deciding if the time is right to settle your ICBC claim.
1. Are All of Your Injuries Known? It is not uncommon for injury victims to have delayed symptoms in the aftermath of a car accident, or for injuries to not be apparent until some time has passed after the accident. Our injury lawyers recently discussed a case in which a vehicle sustained significant damage in an accident, but the driver appeared to be uninjured. He went to a nearby hospital after the accident, but was not admitted. While he had no visible physical injuries, he went on to develop significant mental impairments and was ultimately awarded $100,000 in non-pecuniary damages for mental injury caused by the negligent driver. Imagine if he had settled his ICBC claim right after the accident – he would have been left with a life-long impairment but inadequate compensation. 2. Do you have ongoing pain or symptoms? Ideally, you should wait until you are completely recovered from your injuries before settling your ICBC claim. At the very least, you should not settle your ICBC claim until you are back to your pre-accident level of work and activities and you have more or less recovered from your injuries. For some injured victims, however, the car accident results in lasting medical problems and permanent disabilities, and they will never be symptom-free. Be careful about relying on your doctor’s opinion that you will recover fully within a few months, or advice from your doctor, ICBC, or otherwise, that injuries like yours “usually” take a certain amount of time to heal. If it turns out that you do not recover as predicted, then you will have settled your ICBC claim for less than what you deserve. In all cases, you should make sure that the settlement amount you receive for your ICBC claim is enough to cover future problems that you may experience, income you may lose, or treatment you may need for your injuries as a result of your accident. 3. Is liability for the accident disputed? In some cases liability for the accident is undisputed, which means that the settlement offer should reflect 100% compensation for the injuries caused by the accident. In other cases, ICBC and the negligent driver will argue that the injured victim should share some – or even all – of the blame for the accident. If liability for the accident is apportioned to the injured victim, compensation in the settlement offer will be reduced accordingly. Here is a common example: you are turning left at an intersection when your vehicle is struck by a car coming straight through the intersection; you are sure you had a green or yellow light and were proceeding with the right-of-way, but the other driver insists that the light had changed and they had the right-of-way. In such a situation, ICBC will apportion fault to you and reduce the settlement offer they make in accordance with the apportionment (e.g., if ICBC determines that you were 50% to blame, your compensation will be reduced by 50%). Do not settle your ICBC claim if ICBC is taking a position with respect to liability (i.e. the cause of the accident) that you do not agree with. The same is true if your ICBC claim involves an allegation that you were contributorily negligent (in other words, if ICBC takes the position that you bear responsibility for your injuries or damages; see here for our personal injury attorneys’ discussion of contributory negligence). Get advice from an experienced Injury lawyer before settling any ICBC claims If you have questions about the fairness of a settlement offer from ICBC or if you are wondering whether the time is right to settle your ICBC claim, contact one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Bronson Jones & Company LLP for advice. We will help you evaluate the settlement offer, the extent of your injuries, and your recovery status, and then outline your options for next steps. Keep in mind that if you choose to settle your ICBC claim, ICBC will require you to sign a final Release which ends your entitlement to any further compensation from ICBC. Only in very rare circumstances have the courts allowed an injured victim to proceed with an ICBC claim once a Release has been signed. Don’t end up regretting the settlement you accept. Call us at 1-855-852-5100 to arrange a free initial consultation. Legal Guidance & More: From Injury to Recovery Bronson Jones & Company lawyers have extensive trial experience and extensive experience in negotiating fair settlements for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents. We have also developed an extensive network of medical and occupational specialists, therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and others to help you recover and deal with the impact of your injury on your physical health, family life, finances and future. Reports from these experts may be essential in the development of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call any of the 13 Bronson Jones locations in the Lower Mainland for our expertise and advice. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.