When a person is injured in a motor vehicle accident, and the case is not settled, and goes to trial, evidence is presented to prove the claims being made. At the end of the trial the plaintiff is asked, in essence, how much money they are looking for. The defendant also has the opportunity to say how much money they think the plaintiff should get. The court then renders a ruling.
Historically, as long as the amount of compensation a plaintiff is awarded at trial exceeds the amount the defendant was offering to give the plaintiff before trial, then the defendant had to pay all of its own legal costs, as well as the plaintiff’s legal expenses, and a portion of the plaintiff’s legal bill.
However, in recent times – roughly the last two years– a new trend is developing. This trend is a disturbing one for plaintiffs.
If the amount which the court awards is significantly less than the plaintiff was asking for, then regardless of how much the defendant offered, some judges are beginning to reduce the amount the defendant has to pay to the plaintiff for the plaintiff’s legal expenses.
This means that a plaintiff, even if successfully getting a judgment which was more than the defendant offered, may have to shoulder some of their own legal expenses if the judge thinks that the plaintiff was asking for an unreasonably high amount at trial.
What this Means for Your ICBC Injury Claim
If you are a person injured in an accident, and a settlement is not reached and you are going to trial, what this means is that you should only ask the court for compensation which is justified given the evidence, and the law. If you ask for an unreasonably high amount at trial, you could face cost implications if the trial judge believes that the amount of money you were asking for was too high and not justified in the evidence or under the law. It is therefore very important that you have experienced legal counsel who can properly advise you as to what is reasonable to ask for, and that you follow your lawyer’s recommendations when going to trial as to the amount of compensation to seek.