In this personal injury case involving two motor accidents occurring 6 months apart(Wang v. Dhaliwal,2014 BCSC 1662) the court awarded two set of legal costs totaling $13,000 in addition to the $59,000 out of court settlement. In British Columbia money you get for legal costs as a successful litigation are awarded to to help off-set the actual cost of legal fees to prosecute the injury claim.
The issue on this assessment of costs was whether the injury claimant was restricted to a single award pursuant to Civil Rule 15-1, fast track litigation, which is $6,500, as the lawyers had agreed to an order that the two lawsuits be heard at the same time. As the settlement for the personal injury claims was global, there was no definitive way in which to find that the first lawsuit ought to have been brought in the Small Claims Court. Further, there was no application brought to have the case transferred to the Small Claims Court.
The claimant emphasized that the two personal injury lawsuits were not joined until only 6 months before the trial and that both were ready to proceed to trial when settlement was reached six days before the scheduled trial management conference and roughly seven weeks prior to trial.
ICBC’s lawyers claimed that although two lawsuits were were commenced separately, they ought to have been initially commenced as a single action in one Notice of Civil Claim. They emphasize Civil Rule 1-3 allows for the the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every proceeding on its merits. ICBC argued argue that they should not have to bear the extra costs created by bringing a multiplicity of pleadings and, ultimately, a global settlement was negotiated. They also refer to the fact that the assessment of costs is itself a simple procedure with respect to both actions. The Court disagreed.
The Court ordered that the claimant was entitled to $6,500 costs in each of the two personal injury lawsuits, for a total of $13,000.00 costs, plus applicable taxes and disbursements..
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.
ISSUE: Should claimants be awarded two sets of legal costs if cases settle together?