The decision on when to settle your ICBC claim is the biggest decision you will make. There is no easy answer and the answer to when to settle is really dependant on the facts involved in your ICBC claim.
ICBC will often attempt to settle your claim very soon after the accident. The reason being, there is an advantage to ICBC to closing a file from an administrative cost perspective. Also, the usual principal is that the earlier you settle the ICBC claim, the less ICBC has to pay.
Remember, once you settle your claim, you will not be entitled to any further compensation from ICBC because ICBC will have you sign a final Release and that Release ends your entitlement to any further compensation from ICBC. If it turns out your injuries are more severe than you otherwise thought when you settled your claim, itís very unlikely you will be able to continue your claim because of the Release. Only in relatively rare circumstances will the Court overlooked the Release to allow you to continue forward with your ICBC claim.
Overall, you should not settle your ICBC claim on your own until you are at least back to your pre-accident level of work/activities and you have more or less recovered from your injuries. Also, you do not want to rely on your doctorís opinion that you will recover fully within a few months because if it turns out you do not recover then obviously the amount you settle for is less than what you deserve.
Hence, in most situations where you are self-represented, you want to make sure that you are completely recovered from your injuries before settling the claim. You can always settle before you are fully recovered so long as ICBC is paying for the future problems that are anticipated.
Unfortunately, ICBC rarely pays out a claim based on ongoing future problems unless a lawyer is involved.
As a result, because you are probably new to the ICBC system, your best approach is to at least consult a seasoned ICBC personal injury lawyer before accepting any offer from ICBC. Personal injury lawyers most often give free initial consultations so it doesnít cost anything to bounce a settlement offer off an expert. At the very least, you will get a good idea of what the potential claim is worth and then you can weigh the various options as to whether to try to settle your ICBC claim directly with ICBC or hire a lawyer. If the personal injury lawyer is trying to charge you for the initial consultation, go somewhere else.
ICBCadvice.com offers free legal advice online, just email with your question(s) and they will get back to you completely free of charge.
If you have hired a lawyer and are pursuing the claim through litigation, as a trial date approaches, often times there is a need to resolve your case regardless of how far you have recovered. Your lawyer would be able to best address the disadvantages vs. the advantages of settling at that point.
The answer to when to settle your ICBC claim is very complicated. If you are self-represented, you can try to settle your ICBC claim for a reasonable dollar if you are fully recovered. Alternatively, if your condition has not stabilized but ICBC is prepared to compensate you for future problems, then you may wish to settle. Do not try to settle your ICBC claim early on if your injuries are ongoing and the future is uncertain. Also, do not settle your ICBC claim if your injuries are ongoing and the ICBC offer is based on your injuries being fully recovered or likely to fully recover shortly.
The last thing you want to do is settle early for a low dollar figure and end up with serious life long injuries.