Should I Accept ICBC’s First Settlement Offer?
If you sue the driver at fault for your car accident, then ICBC may offer an early settlement of your claim. This will almost certainly be too low, which is why you should not agree to anything until you have spoken to a lawyer.
Thanks to recent legal changes, injured parties can only make a personal injury claim for a motor vehicle accident if the person responsible has broken the law. For instance, if you someone crashes into you because they are drink driving and you suffer injuries as a result, then you will have grounds to take legal action.
ICBC has made an early offer – what should I do?
When this happens, ICBC may make an early offer of compensation. You may be given a deadline by which you must respond. Sometimes, this deadline will be very tight, and may even be as short as 24 hours. This puts you under pressure and leaves you little time to speak to a lawyer. You may therefore feel pressured into accepting.
However, we strongly recommend that you do not agree to anything until you have sought independent legal advice. While the threat of the deadline might be hanging over you, please do not worry. A lawyer can contact ICBC and request that the deadline is deferred. Remember, you are entitled to legal advice and you should exercise this right.
Should I reject ICBC’s first offer?
One of our Vancouver personal injury lawyers can assess whether ICBC’s offer is fair and reasonable. The likelihood is that you will be eligible to receive a much greater sum than the one offer. This is not true in 100% of cases; but it is worth finding out. Otherwise, you will be denied the chance to claim the correct amount of compensation.
This is because claims are usually settled on a full and final basis. This means you can only make a claim for your injuries once. You cannot settle a claim for an accident now, and then realise in the future that you under-settled your claim and request more compensation. Instead, you have to get it right the first-time round.
Why is the offer too low?
ICBC says it is committed to ensuring British Columbians receive the care and benefits they need. However, the corporation is also a business that is known for running at a loss. It is keen to reduce any overheads – particularly legal fees. Your adjuster will want to keep costs to a minimum, which means settling a claim as early as possible.
However, where there is a quick settlement offer, it can only mean that there has been a quick analysis of your claim. When you instruct a personal injury lawyer, there is a detailed investigation into the injuries you have sustained, the financial losses you have incurred, and the way in which the accident is likely to impact your life in the years to come. This kind of assessment is not a fast process. It involves going through your finances, looking at your medical records and maybe even instructing medical experts to assess you. Without this kind of information, it is impossible to know exactly how much your claim is worth.
So, an early settlement offer is almost certainly not a fair reflection of the true value of your claim. It is very possible that you will be entitled to more money than the ICBC adjuster says. If so, there is absolutely nothing wrong with entering into negotiations. ICBC may make a second, third or even a fourth offer before initiating court proceedings.
Ask a lawyer to negotiate for you
Understandably, you might not feel too confident about negotiating directly with ICBC. After all, they are a large corporation with their own team of lawyers. Their adjusters are highly trained at assessing claims and negotiating with injured parties. All of this puts you at a significant disadvantage. That is why we recommend that you instruct your own personal injury lawyer.
At John Mickelson Law Corporation, our lawyers will negotiate on your behalf, outlining why ICBC’s first settlement offer is not fair. We can then make a counter-offer, suggesting what an appropriate sum of compensation would look like in your case. We will handle everything for you, leaving you free to focus on your recovery.
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Has ICBC made you an early settlement offer? Contact us now to discuss whether or not you should accept it.Go back to Blog