The W5 of Settlement of Your Personal Injury Claim

Many clients (and potential clients) have questions regarding settling their personal injury claim. While some claims will not be able to be settled and will need to go to Trial, the vast majority of claims will be resolved by settlement either outside of, or as a part of, the Court process.  Here are the basics of the ‘who, what, when, where, and why’ of settlement.

Who:  There will usually be some negotiation between your lawyer and ICBC (or other insurer) regarding what is a reasonable amount of money to compensate you for the losses you have suffered as a result of your accident.  The ultimate decision on whether your claim will be settled however is made by YOU.  We recommend seriously considering the advice of the lawyer you have hired when it comes to what amount is reasonable compensation – but the ultimate decision on accepting or rejecting any settlement offer is yours to make.

What:  A settlement is a final resolution of your claim for compensation by agreement as opposed to getting a decision from a Court as to what your claim is worth.  A settlement is a final and binding conclusion of your claim.  It is a decision that cannot be ‘undone’.  The decision to settle must be made after careful consideration of the strengths (and weaknesses) of your claim.

When:  There is no time limit for when a claim may be settled, although there are time limits for when a claim must be filed in British Columbia.  Some claims are settled before a law suit is filed while some are settled very close to a scheduled Trial.  A claim should not be settled until you are back to your pre-accident state of health and activity or until you have a full understanding of any ongoing injury and disability that you will be dealing with.

Where:  Settlements can occur in negotiations between your lawyer and ICBC adjuster over the telephone, via e-mail or in letters back-and-forth.  Settlements can also be reached at Mediations or through Judicial Settlement Conferences in which Third Parties can help both sides resolve the claim short of attending Trial.

Why:  Why Settle?  While our Courts rely on legal precedents and legal rules to try to ensure that people with similar injuries and losses receive similar compensation, there are no ‘sure-things’ when you to to Court.  If you are able to get a reasonable amount of compensation for your injuries and losses by way of agreement, that is often much preferable to the risk and uncertainties involved in attending Trial.

You can only obtain a reasonable settlement of your claim if your claim has been thoroughly investigated and you have secured all evidence you will need to prove your claim should the matter need to go to Trial.  We recommend you speak with a lawyer experienced in personal injury litigation should you have any questions regarding the W5 of settlement.



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