Do You Need a Lawyer if the ICBC Offers You a Settlement?
Yes – It Is Always In Your Best Interest to Get a Lawyer for ICBC Claims
While it is possible to obtain a fair settlement from ICBC, the first offer is not necessarily unbiased or as much as you deserve. It is in the best interest of the insurer and the taxpayer to pay you as small a settlement as legally allowed. Sometimes adjusters try to pressure you into accepting an offer over the phone. However, it is your legal right to get the offer in writing and have a reasonable deadline for consideration. Since you can hire an ICBC personal injury law firm on a contingency basis at no upfront cost, it makes sense to seek a professional legal opinion. It helps tremendously to have a dedicated negotiator on your side.
Can You Get More Money in an ICBC Settlement with a Lawyer?
An ICBC personal injury lawyer only gets paid if you get paid. They negotiate higher settlements to put more money in your pocket and also ensure they get paid for their contingency work as well. According to the Vancouver Sun, the ICBC settles about 15,000 claims a year. In 2018, they paid an average of $16,500 per claim– but that was before the $5,500 cap on pain and suffering damages that went into effect April 1, 2019. By contrast, litigated injury claims have risen 30 percent over the last two years, with an average closed claim worth $121,826.
Do Lawyers Speed Up the ICBC Process?
Many British Columbians are eager to receive settlement money, since they have medical bills mounting, ongoing expenses, and cannot work for a spell during recovery. ICBC has up to 30 days to respond to your benefit application. This can mean they make you an offer, they can request more information, or they can notify you of their ongoing investigation.
An ICBC lawyer is always good at reminding the ICBC that they must “act in good faith” with their response deadlines, should they forget. The initial amount offered may seem reasonable to you, or it may be a lowball offer that you can dispute. Keep in mind there is a two-year limitation period on receiving benefits, so it’s important that the insurance company does not string you along unfairly.
Recent changes have allowed online claims for “minor” injuries that do not involve broken bones, but the larger settlements occur in courtrooms. It could take up to two years until the trial, but it is worth it to receive full value. You can obtain a settlement of $15,000 in as little as two weeks or you can hold out for $40,000 or more in court.
Sometimes waiting is beneficial for a claim. For ICBC, “the sooner, the better” often applies. Certain types of injuries may seem like small inconveniences at first but escalate to expensive chronic conditions over time. You should never accept an offer before your symptoms have resolved or the long-term effects of your injuries are known. For a “minor” injury (with up to 12 weeks of recovery), you may only receive $5,500 in pain and suffering, versus a “severe” injury persisting beyond 12 weeks, which could pay out over $300,000. Once a claim is settled, you will sign a release, barring you from future recovery, so it’s important to get it right the first time.
How Can a Lawyer Help if the Initial Settlement Offer is Low?
Getting offered a small pittance compared to what your claim is worth can be an emotional time. It is important to keep your cool and avoid firing back an emotional response, which could give ICBC every reason to stonewall your appeal. When tensions are running high, it helps to have an impartial legal advocate negotiating on your behalf.
We can look over the settlement offer in key areas to evaluate the specific calculations the adjuster used to come up with the claim amount. We will examine all the documentation they used to base their figures and point out areas of inaccuracy. We can also bring in experts like doctors who can explain the impact of your medical condition on your day-to-day life, economists who can make a case for your future earnings and costs, or a psychologist who can discuss the emotional suffering.
Upon presenting our case, we’ll come up with a counteroffer and represent your interests in the back-and-forth volley. Contact us, an ICBC law firm, in Metro Vancouver, for your free consult.