ICBC Made Me An Offer To Settle My Claim – Should I Accept It?
As a personal injury lawyer, my initial contact with new clients often comes after ICBC has made them an offer to settle their personal injury claim. The question I am asked in those circumstances of course is whether the ICBC offer is reasonable. There are a couple of important things to understand when it comes to assessing an offer from ICBC.
First, it is not uncommon for ICBC to make an offer to resolve your personal injury claim (especially at the early stages) without any reasonable explanation or breakdown of how the particular settlement number was arrived at. If you are uncertain about the offer being made, you have every right to ask the adjuster for a more detailed explanation of how they arrived at the particular amount being offered. This request may or may not be responded to, although it is worth noting that ICBC is under no legal obligation to provide any kind of breakdown at this stage.
Secondly, it is important to understand that ICBC will often try and settle with you too early, before your injuries have resolved or the long terms effects of your injuries are known. An injury claim should not be settled until you have an understanding of the long term effects of the injuries, otherwise, you risk missing out on important compensation for future expenses. Once a claim is settled, you will sign a Release that will prevent you from recovering any further compensation in respect of that accident.
Finally, when assessing an ICBC offer, it may be helpful to have a very basic understanding of how personal injury claims are quantified. This is especially important if ICBC actually agrees to provide a further breakdown of their offer. Compensation for personal injury claims is based on several different factors, including considerations like the nature of the injury sustained, how long the injury impacted your day-to-day life, whether the injury resulted in lost employment income and whether the injury may impact employment income in the future. Out-of-pocket expenses and expenses that might be incurred in the future, including any future medical expenses also have to be factored in. This is by no means an exhaustive list of factors, but these are some of the more common factors in injury claims that arise out of motor vehicle accidents.
If ICBC is unable to explain their offer in terms of the above factors, it might suggest that ICBC failed to give full consideration to your particular circumstances prior to putting forward its settlement offer. If ICBC does in fact fail to fully consider all issues prior to making an offer of settlement, there will of course be concern that the offer is not reasonable. If this concern exists and because of the complexities involved in determining appropriate compensation for your accident-related injuries, in most cases it is a good idea to have a lawyer working with you. Your lawyer can then provide guidance on settlement negotiations. Particularly important, your lawyer will help ensure that the settlement will properly address future issues and expenses that you may not otherwise consider. The earlier on in the process you involve a lawyer, the better, as your lawyer will then ensure all important factors are taken into account right from the start.