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The exact value of ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts is decided on a case by case basis. A great deal of ICBC claims involve people suffering from whiplash and soft tissue injuries, such as injuries to the neck, back, and shoulders, or a combination of all of these.
Clients often ask at the outset of their ICBC claims what their ICBC settlements will be worth, and what typical ICBC payouts are worth. This is practically impossible to answer at this juncture, given the multitude of factors that will affect ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts, many of which are unknown shortly after the motor vehicle accident. As such, the awards for ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts can vary widely.
The time at which you receive an ICBC settlement offer, ICBC settlement amount, or ICBC payout can vary as well. Some adjusters will float an ICBC settlement offer to you early on in an attempt to try to get you to settle your ICBC claim prematurely, which can result in a less than average ICBC payout for the injured claimant. Some adjusters will wait a longer period of time before making an ICBC settlement offer. The time at which you as an injured claimant should settle your ICBC claim is at the time that you reach your pre-accident state of health, as your ICBC settlement offer and ICBC payout will be higher in this regard, provided that you have properly mitigated your damages. You may also wish to settle your ICBC claim if it is the situation that your injuries have plateaued, and you will never be 100% again. In either situation, it is advisable that you have your doctor confirm that you have recovered, or that your injuries have plateaued.
Please click here for court cases on soft tissue, whiplash injuries. Please bear in mind that no two cases will be identical in their facts and circumstances. There is no set, mathematical calculation that the court uses when determining the proper amount of damages to award a claimant in an ICBC claim. The Courts often remark that previously decided cases can be helpful as a rough guide, however it is difficult to compare any one case to another. The Courts frequently award the midpoint value for damages between what Plaintiff’s counsel submits is an appropriate amount, and what ICBC’S lawyer believes is an appropriate amount.
Such factors that will affect ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts include:
- the severity of your injuries:
for example, if you have a grade 3 classification of whiplash associated disorder (WAD 3), then your ICBC settlement amount and ICBC payout are likely to be higher than if you had only suffered from a grade 2 classification of whiplash associated disorder (WAD 2), provided that all things are equal, such as your efforts at mitigation
- the duration of your injuries:
generally speaking, ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts tend to be higher the longer a claimant is injured, provided that the proper steps at mitigation have been taken; it is always advisable to wait until you have reached your pre-accident state of health before agreeing to any ICBC settlement amounts or ICBC payouts
- the nature of your occupation, and the possibility of long term impairment:
for example, if you suffer soft tissue, whiplash injuries to your neck and back, and your occupation involves sitting at a computer all day, then this would likely have an effect on your ICBC settlement amount and ICBC payout, particularly if you have not fully recovered at the time of your ICBC settlement
- how long you were off work:
with proper, substantiating medical documentation stating that you were unable to perform the duties of your job, the longer you were off work will affect your loss of income component of your ICBC claim, and you will be entitled to greater global ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts
- whether or not you properly mitigated your damages:
if a claimant in an ICBC claim does not properly take reasonable steps to reduce their losses, this could result in a partial reduction in ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts
- whether or not you are found to be contributorily negligent in any way for your injuries:
for example, not wearing a seat belt could result in a partial deduction in ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts
- whether or not you are found partially liable for causing the accident:
this can also have a significant impact on the value of ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts
- your age
- your pre-existing state of health:
for example, if you are already suffering from whiplash and soft tissue injuries to your neck, back, and/or shoulders, or you have other pre-existing conditions that are not soft tissue in nature before the time of the accident, then ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts may be lower
- whether or not you were more likely to suffer an injury than the average person:
please click here for discussion of the “thin skull” principle
- the extent of the loss of enjoyment of your life
- the need for future care:
in more serious cases, this can often lead to a substantial component of any ICBC settlement amounts or ICBC payouts : please click here for a discussion of the principles courts consider when making awards for future care
- whether or not you have counsel:
ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts tend to be much lower to self-represented claimants, who are simply unaware of the various forms of damages that can be claimed; most self-represented claimants in ICBC claims believe you can only claim damages for pain and suffering and wage loss, when in fact there are several more heads of damages than can be claimed. Please click here for a summary of the types of damages that you can claim for.
- the stage at which your ICBC claim is settled:
if your matter is in the midst of the litigation process, and there are no liability disputes, then you will generally get higher ICBC settlement amounts offered to you the farther along you proceed through the litigation process
Although many people suffer from whiplash and soft tissue injuries to their neck, back, shoulders, etc…, no two ICBC claims will be identical in their facts and circumstances. As such, ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts can vary.
Please click here for the general path that the ICBC settlement process can take. For the most part, the farther along you go through the ICBC settlement process, the higher the amount of your ICBC settlement offer and ICBC payouts will be.
Please click here for court cases on pain and suffering, for an idea of some of the various factors a court takes into consideration when awarding damages for whiplash and soft tissue injuries, such as neck, back, and shoulder pain, as well as for pain and suffering in general.
ICBC settlement amounts that are offered can sometimes even depend on the particular ICBC adjuster assigned to your case, as some will offer a higher amount for ICBC settlements than others. Generally speaking, with respect to ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts, ICBC uses internal guidelines with respect to compensation for pain and suffering for less serious whiplash and soft tissue injuries, such as in regards to short-term neck, shoulder, and back pain. It should be remembered, however, that such ICBC internal guidelines are not the law when it comes to ICBC settlements and ICBC payouts, and that it is the British Columbia Courts that decide what the true value of compensation is for people suffering whiplash and soft tissue injuries to their neck, back, and shoulders, amongst other injuries.
Please click here for court cases on soft tissue, whiplash injuries.
The following are the types of damages that you can claim as part of your ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts:
- general damages for pain and suffering, and loss of amenities of life
- special damages, otherwise known as out-of-pocket expenses
- loss of housekeeping capacity
- future loss of housekeeping capacity
- loss of income, and past diminished earning capacity
- future diminished earning capacity
- in-trust claims
- cost of future care
- tax gross up fees
- accelerated depreciation
Please click here for more information on these types of damages, and how they can affect the value of your ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts.
Definition of Whiplash:
According to the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-Associated Disorders:
“Whiplash is an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck. It may result from rear-end or side-impact motor vehicle collisions, but can also occur during diving or other mishaps. The impact may result in bony or soft-tissue injuries (whiplash injury), which in turn may lead to a variety of clinical manifestations (whiplash-associated disorders—WAD)
There are several grades of whiplash associated disorder (WAD):
- WHIPLASH ASSOCIATED DISORDER 0 (WAD 0):
No complaint about the neck, and no physical sign of injury
- WHIPLASH ASSOCIATED DISORDER 1 (WAD 1):
Neck complaint of pain, stiffness, or tenderness, but no physical sign of injury
- WHIPLASH ASSOCIATED DISORDER 2 (WAD 2):
Neck complaint, as well as muskuloskeletal injury (decreased range of motion, and point tenderness)
- WHIPLASH ASSOCIATED DISORDER 3 (WAD 3):
Neck complaint, and neurological signs (decreased or absent deep tendon reflexes, weakness, and sensory deficits)
- WHIPLASH ASSOCIATED DISORDER 4 (WAD 4):
Neck complaint, as well as a fracture and/or dislocation
The classification given to you by your doctor will have an impact on ICBC settlement amounts, and what adjusters will offer for ICBC payouts. Generally speaking, the higher the classification, the more the average ICBC settlement amounts and average ICBC payouts will be.
Definition of Soft Tissue Injuries:
According to Wikipedia, a soft tissue injury (STI) is the damage of muscles, ligaments, and tendons throughout the body. Common soft tissue injuries usually occur from a sprain, strain, or a one off blow resulting in a contusion or overuse of a particular part of the body. Soft tissue injuries can result in pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of function.
Common soft tissue injuries in ICBC claims involve neck, back, and shoulder pain, soreness, and stiffness. When it comes to ICBC claims and ICBC settlement amounts, soft tissue injuries can be the subject of hot debate. Soft tissue injuries are considered a form of subjective injury, meaning that it is the claimant reporting the symptoms, which do not show up on objectively verifiable tests such as x-rays or scans.
Please click here for court cases on soft tissue, whiplash injuries.
For more serious injuries, such as chronic pain, brain injuries, fractures, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), and nerve damage, ICBC settlement amounts and ICBC payouts are generally not subject to the rigid, internal guidelines that apply to less serious whiplash and soft tissue injuries for neck pain, back pain, and shoulder pain, for the main reasons that the more serious injuries are more long-lasting, and more complicated due to competing expert medical evidence.
Please see what you can claim for for a more detailed description of the heads of damages which you can claim for, and which can form part of your ICBC settlements and ICBC payouts.