Advance Payment Orders and Your ICBC Injury Claim


While Defendants in lawsuits are generally not obliged to make any advance payments to a Plaintiff, in unique circumstances the BC Supreme Court can compel a Defendant to pay an advance.  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this judicial power and the circumstances when it should be exercised.
In last week’s case (Gill v. West) the Plaintiff was involved in 10 motor vehicle accidents for which he was suing for damages.  Liability was admitted in some of the actions.  The Plaintiff alleged that the various crashes caused indivisible injuries and he was disabled as a result.  He applied for various orders including an order that he be advanced “$150,000 forthwith on account of damages“.   Madam Justice Wedge dismissed the Plaintiff’s request and in doing so provided the following comments on this area of the law:

[8] The plaintiff is frank to admit that it seeks the order concerning liability in the one action, and the order to have the fourth action heard with the other three, for the express purpose of obtaining the advance payment order. The plaintiff acknowledged he cannot obtain an order for advance payment of damages unless it is granted in conjunction with another order.

[9] In the case of Lines v. Gordon (2009), 90 B.C.L.R. (4th) 52 (C.A.), our Court of Appeal made it clear that the Rules of Court do not give this Court jurisdiction to make a stand alone order for an advance payment of damages, nor does this Court have inherent jurisdiction to do so.

[10] In the Lines decision, the Court referred to the wording of then Rule 1(12), now Rule 13-1(19), which states as follows:  “When making an order under these Rules, the court may impose terms and conditions and give directions as it thinks just.”  Based on that wording — and specifically the words “when making an order under these Rules,” — the Court in Lines stated that there must be a temporal connection between an order for an advance payment and another order…

[17] I will now turn to the law governing this application. While Lines v. Gordon states that there must be a temporal connection between the order for advance payment of damages and the granting of another order, temporal proximity is only one factor. More broadly, the order for advance payment must be a just one in all of the circumstances:  Serban v. Casselman (1995), 2 B.C.L.R. (3d) 316 (C.A.).

[18] The question is always whether the circumstances of the primary order, in conjunction with which the advance payment order is sought, are sufficiently compelling to justify an advance payment of damages. The authorities make clear that a payment of damages in advance of trial is only to be made in exceptional circumstances arising from the making of the primary order. For example, where the defendant applies for an adjournment of a personal injury trial and the plaintiff’s circumstances are financially tenuous, it may be just in the circumstances to order an advance payment of damages in conjunction with the order for an adjournment. However, such an advance payment order will not be made unless the judge is completely satisfied there is no possibility the assessment of damages at trial will be less than the amount of the advance payment:  Serban v. Casselman. Further, the court will exercise its discretion to order an advance payment only where liability is not an issue:  Andruschak v. Helina (1993), 89 B.C.L.R. (2d) 320 (S.C.); Wilkinson v. Martin, 2010 BCSC 113.

[19] In the present case, there is no substantive connection between the orders sought and the order for advance payment. The trial was recently adjourned, but that was at the behest of the plaintiff, not the defendant. The application for an order that the fourth action be heard with the other three was not necessary, as the defendants consented to the order before the application was brought. I note as well that the adding of the fourth action did not necessitate the adjournment of the trial.

[20] Further, the application for the finding of liability in one action is not of itself a proper basis for an advance payment order. There is nothing in the circumstances of a formal finding of liability in the one action that would make an order for an advance payment just or necessary in the circumstances of this case. In short, there is simply no substantive trigger for an advance payment.

[21] In addition, with seven of the ten defendants denying liability, I am not persuaded it would be just in the circumstances to order that the defendants in all actions be jointly and severally liable for the advance payment of damages. Whether there ought to be joint and several liability on the part of the defendants is an issue that must be determined at trial and should not be determined on an application for advance payment.

[22] For all of these reasons, and despite the able and forceful submissions of plaintiff’s counsel, the plaintiff has not satisfied me that the orders sought ought to be granted, with the exception of the first order that all four actions be heard together, which will go by consent. The application for the remaining orders is dismissed.

Advance Payment Orders, Advances, bc injury law, Gill v. West, Madam Justice Wedge, Rule 13, Rule 13-1, Rule 13-1(19)

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If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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