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ICBCs application for a rate hike in 2017-2018 has included as a rationale for the required increase, the increased rate of legal representation of claimants:  blames lawyers for increased car insurance costs

Rose Keith, Vancouver personal injury lawyer writes about helmets and head injury protection article

ICBC's application for a rate hike has included as a rationale for the required increase, the increased rate of legal representation of claimants, which they attribute to lawyer advertising. In their application last year they also pointed to increased legal representation as one of the reasons for increased costs. The BC Utilities Commission in its 2015 decision allowing the increase, encouraged ICBC to "explore all possible ways to address controllable as well as external factors that may lead claimants to seek legal representation", [emphasis added] noting that if appropriate steps were put in place the rate of legal representation could return to pre 2011 levels that existed prior to the acceleration in rates of legal representation. The panel did not accept ICBC's explanation for the reasons for increased legal representation stating as follows:

"...we view perceived lawyer benefits as at least in part a function of the treatment that claimants believe they are likely to receive at the hands of ICBC in the absence of legal representation."

The panel called for a follow up customer satisfaction survey to be conducted by ICBC to help it identify what in its processes was driving claimants to hire lawyers rather than deal directly with ICBC on their claim. The 2014 survey that was conducted by ICBC identified a number of reasons that claimants were seeking legal representation including perceived lawyer benefits, lawyers increasing the chances of a better settlement, reducing the hassle of dealing with ICBC, providing access to more treatment and enabling claimants to more fully focus on their recovery. Claimants also identified hiring a lawyer as giving them a greater sense of control by having an expert fully on their side.

ICBC over the last few years has spent a significant amount of money on advertising with an aim to decrease the rate of legal representation in ICBC claims.  I have previously written on this and the problems I saw with our public insurer using policy dollars to discourage claimants from hiring counsel.  Leaving aside the question of why ICBC wants to prevent claimants from having legal representation, I disagree with my policy dollars being spent on advertising. 

ICBC does have within its control many things that can be done to decrease the number of people that hire lawyers like myself for their car accident claims. More often than not, when I am hired I will hear complaints from the claimant about the treatment that they have received at the hands of ICBC prior to hiring me.  They have been unable to get timely communication and decisions from ICBC, ICBC has not been clear in either their decisions or the reasons for it, ICBC is pressuring them to do one thing or another, or ICBC is preventing the claimant from getting the type of treatment that has been recommended.  It is these factors primarily in my experience that lead to claimants hiring a lawyer to assist with their claim.

I have also over the years that I have handled ICBC claims on behalf of claimants seen changes which have served to increase the costs to ICBC associated with the litigation.

  • ICBC has stripped adjusters of authority resulting in cumbersome procedures and delays in settlement discussions.
  • ICBC routinely seeks jury trials which add at least one full day to the length of a jury trial.
  • ICBC disregards legal precedent and seemingly the advice of the lawyers that they have hired in deciding settlement strategy, resulting in either a lack of presentation of offers that are within the range of potential outcomes at trial or delaying providing those types of offers until very close to trial.
  • ICBC also often refuses to deal seriously with a file or seriously consider settlement offers until very close to trial, again significantly increasing the costs of litigation.

All of these factors are within the control of ICBC. ICBC has the power and ability to reduce the rate of legal representation, all that they have to do is deal fairly, reasonably and compassionately with complainants once a claim is filed.  ICBC has the power and ability to reduce the litigation costs associated with files. If they provided their experienced adjusters with the authority to handle files in a way that reflects the economic realities of the file, including proportional spending of defense costs based on the size of the file, and provision of timely settlement offers prior to litigation costs escalating.  For ICBC to suggest that they do not have control or influence over either the rate of legal representation or the cost of their litigation is disingenuous.

Rose Keith, JD
article
writer is a former President of the B.C. Trial Lawyers Association and has over 20 years experience as a Vancouver personal injury lawyer. This article originally published at RoseKeith.bc.ca

Rose Keith, experienced ICBC injury settlements lawyer with staff fluent in Hindi, Punjabi, Armenian and Russian - click for more information click for Rose Keith talking about brain injury litigation

Rose has over 20 years exper- ience in ICBC injury disputes settlements.  She has worked with clients with soft tissue, whip lash, to traumatic brain injuries - as well as Medical Malpractice and Employment Law. 

Home & hospital meetings available.

Call for consultation 
1486 West Hastings St., Vancouver, BC V6G 3J6
Phone: 604.800.4319
Toll Free: 888.893.6134
Web site: www.rosekeith.bc.ca


Rose Keith, Metro Vancouver personal injury, ICBC settlements for whiplash to brain injury disputes lawyer stands in front of Coal Harbor area of downtown Vancovuer where her office is located

More articles by Rose Keith:

slip and fall caution floor signs in Vancouver supermarket with Rose  Keith, personal injury lawyer photo  CLICK TO ARTICLE on slip and fall injuries

click to article





see also Victoria, B.C. Brain Injury Compensation: Personal Injury Lawyers for ICBC Settlements

Lorenzo Oss-Cech, personal injury, brain injury, ICBC disputes Victoria lawyerMs. Barri Marlatt, personal injury, brain injury, ICBC disputes Victoria lawyerMs. Misty Hillard, personal injury, brain injury, ICBC disputes Victoria lawyer profiles
Michael  O'Connor, QC, experienced personal injury, ICBC claims lawyer in downtown VictoriaMichael Mark, personal injury, icbc claims lawer Charlotte Salomon, QC personal injury / ICBC claims lawyer in  downtown Victoria, active in the Canadian Bar Association civil  litigation sectionDirk-Ryneveld-QC, respected former Canada federal regional prosecutor, and international law professional with Hague International court war crimes prosecutors, also does some personal injury cases in Victoriaprofiles


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