B.C. trial lawyers claim ICBC is withdrawing settlement offers and lowballing victims with a tough-nosed approach that will backfire, but the Crown agency says it’s only trying to contain staggering legal costs.
Matthew Fahey, of the Westpoint Law Group, said he was going crazy Friday morning after an about-face by the Insurance Corp. of B.C.
“In the middle of a negotiation — ICBC was at 40k, I was at 50k — adjuster then says all offers gone, can now only offer 20k,” he complained.
“Adjusters have explained that it is part of a new strategy. ICBC is withdrawing all offers, making lower offers and not negotiating thereafter. Now we have to litigate the matter, which will cost ratepayers a lot of money.”
Guy Collette, of Collette Parsons Harris, said an ICBC adjuster similarly told him this week that an offer was no longer available after Monday in a case involving a 63-year-old woman pedestrian hit by a truck.
And any future offer would be for less money, he added.
“I was advised there is now a meat chart where the patients would be characterized on a one-to-five scale, no consideration of the individual, just rate the injury: one being the most minor and five being the most severe,” Collette said. “And there will be a cap on non-pecuniary damages for each of those numbers over which they will not be able to exceed. Period.”
Other litigators and the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., which has about 1,500 members, expressed similar concerns, saying the move would cost ICBC a small fortune because many more cases would unnecessarily go to trial.
More than bad business, they insisted such an approach reached the level of a miscarriage of justice and bad-faith negotiations.
ICBC, though, denied any Machiavellian intent and blamed …read more
Source:: Vancouver Sun