For ICBC claims with crashes before April 1, 2019, and for all other personal injury claims, a settlement is meant to compensate for the effects of the injuries on the injured person’s life. Because the full effects are often not known immediately, it is difficult to place a number value on the claim until the injured person has been fully evaluated and has received some treatment and tried to return to work, so that the future can be predicted.
Numbers are then put under each of the main “heads” of tort damages:
- Pain and suffering, which sometimes includes a loss of housekeeping ability
- Past wage loss due to missed work
- Future economic loss expected because of work you can’t do in future
- Special damages, which are out-of-pocket expenses like user fees
- Cost of future care, if you need ongoing treatment after settlement
- “In Trust”, for extraordinary care given by family and friends
The total amount is your “settlement”.
How does ICBC know what numbers to put? Some of it is straightforward, such as expenses that you can prove with receipts, or confirmation from your employer about missed shifts at work. But other amounts are more debatable and may require evidence such as medical or economic expert reports, or witnesses, to prove.
It is important not to settle too early, because of stress or financial need. Settlements are final and if you settle too early, it may not be enough to sustain you, particularly if your injuries last longer than you expected.
How does your lawyer know what numbers to recommend? Past decisions by Courts are known as “case law”. An experienced injury lawyer is knowledgeable about the case law and can compare your facts to past cases. The lawyer can give you a recommended range for settlement, and will make offers to ICBC on your behalf in light of what a Court would probably do.
When should you settle? You need to be sufficiently recovered, or sufficiently stable, for the future to be predictable so that we can quantify it. Also, you need your evidence in place in order to make the best case. The lawyer’s role is to prepare your evidence and present the arguments. It is a negotiation. If ultimately the two sides cannot agree, a Court will decide and make an award. However, very often settlements are reached without the need for a trial.
For crashes from April 1, 2019 on, ICBC is making big changes to settlements. ICBC is “capping” (limiting) pain and suffering to $5,500.00 for many claims, and changing the rules for other heads of damages also. Please see this link.