Why Can ICBC Claims Take a Long Time to Settle?
1. The medical system is slow
2. The Court system is slow
Personal injury cases depend on both the medical system and the court system. When you add these 2 systems together it is easy to see why it can take a very long time to fairly settle an ICBC injury claim.
In cases of minor injuries that quickly heal there is no reason for the settlement of the ICBC tort claim to take a long time. Once the injuries fully heal your losses can be valued, out of pocket expenses can be added up and a fair range for pain and suffering can be negotiated.
In cases of serious injury it is not that simple. Serious injuries can take a long time to heal. Sometimes they don’t fully heal, instead they plateau at what’s known as a point of ‘maximum medical improvement’. In cases of serious injury it is imprortant to learn what their long term consequences will be prior to settling with ICBC. The following are some of the questions that should be answered prior to settling:
1. Will the injuries fully heal?
2. If so, when will they fully heal?
3. If not, when will they reach the point of maximum medical improvement?
4. Will the injuries get worse with time? (such as the on-set of post-traumatic arthritis)
5. What effect will the injuries have in the long term on one’s ability to work?
6. What future care needs will be necessary to compensate for the long term injuries?
It is very difficult to fairly value an ICBC injury claim involving serious injuries if the answers to the above questions are not known. These questions often can’t be answered quickly. The medical system is slow. It can take a long time to get properly investigated (wait lists for specialists, who then order tests, wait lists for tests, wait lists to see the specialist again….)
Once the full long term impact of injuries is known they can be valued. Settling prematurely can be financially devastating if the long term reality of injuries is worse than anticipated at the time of settlement. As a personal injury lawyer I often find myself speaking with people who settled their cases prematurely for amounts that significantly short change their injuries. It is only in rare circumstances that such settlements can be set aside.
Keep limitation periods in mind and know that time is on your side when it comes to settling an ICBC injury claim. The desire for quick settlement should never over-ride the desire for a fair settlement.