Generally speaking it can be very expensive to bring an ICBC injury claim to trial in British Columbia. I’m not talking about lawyers fees here. There are many very well qualified personal injury lawyers in BC who handle ICBC injury claims on a ‘contingency basis’ and most Plaintiffs with a good claim have the luxury of shopping around finding a lawyer that is the right fit for them. What I’m referring to is the actual out of pocket cost of bringing a case to trial in the British Columbia Supreme Court. These are called ‘disbursmemnts’.
Most ICBC injury claims focus heavily on the nature and extent of car accident related injuries. To properly present such a case in court expert opinion evidence is necessary. Doctors are entitled to charge fees for providing this service and these fees can quickly get into the thousands of dollars, particularly with complex injury cases such as brain injury claims and chronic pain disorders. Other fees, such as court filing fees, witness fees, process servers fees, photocopying expenses (these can quickly add up particularly in ICBC jury trials where multiple copies of all exhibits must be made) are also commonly incurred.
Most lawyers that advance ICBC injury claims on a contingency basis fund the disbursements to bring the case to trial. After judgement the court has certain powers set out in the Rules of Court to award the victorious party their ‘costs and disbursemnts’. If the parties can’t agree on which disbursements were reasonable an application can be made to the Court to make a ruling.
Reasons for judgment were released today dealing with the issue of ‘reasonable disbursements’ following a BC personal injury claim. Some of the more interesting expenses allowed, from my perspective, were 3 MRI scans paid for privately through Canadian Medial Imaging. These were allowed because “(a doctor) clearly did recommend an MRI to try to assess the cause of (the Plaintiff’s) ongoing problems”. Also, the Trust Administration Fee (a fee lawyers must charge in BC when opening a new file) was held to be reasonable and the Defendant was ordered to pay this cost.
While this judgement does not create any new law it is worth reviewing to see the types of expenses that are sometimes incurred in prosecuting ICBC injury claims and to see how the BC Supreme Court deals with the issue of reimbursement of these expenses. If you are advancing an ICBC injury claim in the BC Supreme Court you should keep judgement such as this one in mind when deciding what expenses you will incur while preparing your case for trial.