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How Much Should I get from ICBC for a Whiplash Injury?


As a personal injury lawyer in British Columbia I am often asked, “How much is my ICBC car accident injury worth?” by clients and potential clients.  Many car accident injury claims involve damages to the muscles and ligaments (soft tissue) in the neck which is commonly referred to as Whiplash.  For the purpose of injury compensation and payment of treatment costs, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, ICBC, has adopted a classification system for what they call Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD). This disorder  is broken down into:

  1. Grade 0: no neck pain, stiffness, or any physical signs are noticed;
  2. Grade 1: neck complaints of pain, stiffness or tenderness only but no physical signs are noted by the examining physician;
  3. Grade 2: neck complaints and the examining physician finds decreased range of motion and point tenderness in the neck;
  4. Grade 3: neck complaints plus neurological signs such as decreased deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits;and
  5. Grade 4: neck complaints and fracture or dislocation, or injury to the spinal cord.

ICBC and other insurance companies tend to have a “meat chart” for injuries depending on the serverity, frequency and duration of the injury. These assessment charts are not reflective of what compensation a claimant can get in court but will often reflect what injury claimants might agree to accept without the benefit of a lawyer. There is no injury chart in British Columbia that injury claimants can look at to determine what their cases are worth and lawyers are required to research the law to find comparable cases to present to the court.
In the personal injury infant caseHahn v. Barnes, 2012 BCSC 724, the injury claimant was awarded $40,000.00 for pain and suffering. The claimant was young and had a long standing neck and back injury. However, the claimant’s injuries were not severe or disabling and the court had no evidence that the injuries caused the claimant any emotional suffering. This case did examine the factors that the court considers when deciding how much a claimant should get for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

 
 The judge in the Hahn case referred to the decision of Collyer v. Boon, 2008 BCSC 1745, wherein Madam Justice L. Russell, at para. 105, stated the following:

There are a number of factors that courts must take into account when assessing this type of claim [for pain and suffering]. The majority judgment in Stapley v. Hejslet, 2006 BCCA 34, 263 D.L.R. (4th) 19, outlines a number of factors to consider, at para. 46:

The inexhaustive list of common factors cited in Boyd [Boyd v. Harris, 2004 BCCA 146] that influence an award of non-pecuniary damages[ compensation for pain and suffering] includes:

(a)        age of the plaintiff;

(b)        nature of the injury;

(c)        severity and duration of pain;

(d)        disability;

(e)        emotional suffering; and

(f)        loss or impairment of life;

I would add the following factors, although they may arguably be subsumed in the above list:

(g)        impairment of family, marital and social relationships;

(h)        impairment of physical and mental abilities;

(i)         loss of lifestyle; and

(j)         the plaintiff’s stoicism (as a factor that should not, generally speaking, penalize the plaintiff: Giang v. Clayton, [2005] B.C.J. No. 163, 2005 BCCA 54).

Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.

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6 responses to How Much Should I get from ICBC for a Whiplash Injury?

  • Stapley v. Hejslet used for $80,000 Stoic Soft Tissue Injury Award | Holness Law Group

    February 27, 2017 4:52am

    […] pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (non-pecuniary damages)  is settled and outlined in Stapley v. Hejslet, 2006 BCCA 34 at paras. 45-46. The factors to be considered include the age of the plaintiff, the […]

  • How Much ICBC Pays for Whiplash Injury Claims 2017 | Holness Law Group

    January 6, 2017 7:15am

    […] Whiplash, formally referred to as Whiplash Associated Disorder ( WAD) or Soft Tissue Injury, is a recognized medical condition which can result in permanent and disabling symptoms of pain, reduced range of motion and headache disorder. British Columbia Courts have long recognized that whiplash can be permanent but the maximum payout for whiplash is less than $365,000 for pain and suffering. However, to break a myth, there is no $6,000 limit on whiplash claims. Click here for ICBC whiplash case discussion. […]

  • $135,000 Pain and Suffering Award for Somatic Symptom Disorder with Chronic Pain | Holness Law Group

    September 12, 2016 4:49am

    […] judge considered the factors set out in Stapley v. Hejslet, 2006 BCCA 34, in awarding $135,000 for pain and […]

  • Fall on Bus Results in $40,000 Award for Pain and Suffering | Holness Law Group

    October 13, 2015 6:26am

    […] Taking into account the claimants’ particular circumstances, all of the Stapley factors, including the claimant’s age, his pre-existing symptomatic arthritis and degenerative disc […]

  • ICBC Personal Injury Settlements- A Compensation Summary « Holness Law Group Blog

    December 30, 2012 2:18pm

    [...] There are no average payouts and no meat charts like the one used for WCB. When trying to resolve a personal injury claim, money for pain and suffering will often depend on the age of the claimant, nature of the injury, severity and duration of pain, disability, emotional suffering and loss or impairment of life. Whether a judge awards $25,000.00, $50,000.00 or $75, 000.00 will often depend of these factors along with other factors such as impaired relationships, impairment of physical and mental abilities, loss of lifestyle, and the claimant’s stoic attitude. Read my article about whiplash injury compensation from ICBC. [...]

  • Dr. Andrew White

    May 22, 2012 7:49pm

    Great article. I am a personal injury chiropractor in St George Utah. Many of my whiplash patients ask about compensation. Some have felt some pangs of guilt about laying a claim with the insurance company. Of course, I don't offer legal advice. But the one thing I am sure to tell them is this: the compensation is for them to use. If they get some money to cover future medical costs, it is completely fair.

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