Costs are an estimate of the legal cost of your lawsuit through trial or up to settlement. They are calculated based on a table that assigns units to each step in a lawsuit, and then multiplies those units by a dollar amount. Disbursements are actual expenses incurred to build up your ICBC claim. They include modest expenses such as photocopying, mailing and filing fees, as well as major expenses such as expert reports.
When Do I Get Costs and Disbursements?
Unless there are serious liability or WCB issues, you are likely to receive costs and disbursements at the end of your ICBC claim. If your claim resolves for less than $25,000 or settles before the lawsuit is filed, ICBC will generally refuse to pay costs. While you may be entitled to costs despite ICBC’s position, they will often be minor amounts. ICBC usually pays ‘reasonable’ disbursements. A good ICBC lawyer will know what disbursements ICBC is likely to pay, and will only incur those expenses.
Could I Owe ICBC Costs and Disbursements?
There are three cases when you might owe ICBC costs and disbursements: (1) you are found wholly at fault for the accident, (2) your ICBC claim is barred by WorksafeBC, (3) ICBC makes a formal offer of settlement, and you receive less than that amount at trial. An experienced ICBC lawyer will recognize when this might happen, and will warn you before you become liable for costs. In general ICBC does not seek costs until after a lawsuit is started, so if you have received an offer or think you might be liable, we can still negotiate with ICBC without putting you at risk of owing them anything.
What Kinds of Disburements Does ICBC Not Pay?
ICBC is constantly changing their internal policy as to what disbursements are payable. However, they may refuse to pay for an expert report if it is based on incorrect facts, so it is important to talk to us if you have concerns about what to disclose to a doctor or another expert.
Costs After Trial
If your claim goes to trial, there will almost always be a costs award. Again, absent issues such as liability, WCB or formal offer considerations, ICBC should end up paying your costs. However, the courts will refuse to award costs if your claim was minor (less than $25,000) and should have been litigated in small claims court.
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