Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

B.C. judge rejects ICBC lowball offer to injured driver

In a case that took more than 13 years to arrive at trial, the driver was awarded $200,000 — one-sixth of what he sought and seven times what ICBC offered, according to B.C. Supreme Court judgment.
The case is one of the outstanding claims totalling about $7 billion that are yet to be dealt with for accidents that happened before B.C. brought in no-fault insurance. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A driver seeking $1.3 million for damages in an accident that happened 13 years ago — damages that ICBC argued were worth $30,000 — has been awarded $200,000 by a judge in B.C. Supreme Court.

The case is one of the outstanding claims totalling about $7 billion that are yet to be dealt with for accidents that happened before May 2021, when B.C. brought a no-fault insurance system that prevents drivers from suing others.

ICBC and Premier David Eby say the change was necessary because the old court-based system was financially unsustainable and instead say the medical and other expenses, including income replacement, ICBC offers for damages related to the accident are ample for the injured to recover.

But the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., made up largely of personal injury lawyers who have lost a large income stream since no fault arrived, said there are “serious issues” with no-fault, including inadequate payments to victims of crashes.

“The [association] is urging the provincial government to listen to the victims of motor vehicle accidents about the serious issues with the no-fault insurance model and to restore their rights to pursue fair and reasonable compensation through the court system,” president Michael Elliott said in an email.

In the decision released Friday, Justice Jeanne Watchuk awarded Zbigniew (Stan) Krupinski $201,813, about half for past loss of earning capacity and the other half for pain and suffering, with smaller amounts for cost of future care and special damages.

The accident happened on June 7, 2011, when Krupinski was rear-ended by another car at the corner of S.E. Marine Drive, while stopped at a red light waiting to turn on to S.E. Marine Way to go westbound.

The crash caused $167 damage to his car and $1,461 to the other vehicle, which ICBC called “very minor,” according to the decision.

But ICBC examiners reported it was “was not a low velocity impact accident,” Watchuk wrote.

Krupinski, who was 63 at the time and is now 76, had just completed a contract as an IT consultant a week before the accident and hasn’t worked since, the judge wrote.

Medical expert evidence showed he suffered a strain of his upper spine, a soft tissue injury, leaving him with headache and neck pain that have become chronic. But the judge wrote that it’s not clear whether his depression and other medical conditions and symptoms were caused by the accident.

ICBC argued his symptoms are attributable to other circumstances and events and not the accident, she wrote.

Krupinski sought damages for pain and suffering, loss of income-earning capacity, cost of future care, loss of homemaking capacity and special damages as well as damages for legal fees for a lawyer he had working for him up until 2017 (after which he was self-represented, which delayed a trial set for 2017), totalling $1,287,819.

ICBC said damages should be $30,592, Watchuk wrote.

Watchuk ruled that the minor nature of the collision is only one factor to consider when assessing an injury claim.

His wife testified “everything changed” from them enjoying an idyllic social life to living a “nightmare” where she had to cash in her RRSPs to pay bills, take a job as a truck driver and rely on the food bank because her husband struggled with headaches and nausea and was not able to get out of bed some days.

But ICBC noted they took trips and there were other stressors in his life at the time, including a fight with the co-op they lived in over a mould problem, his inability to receive a work reference from his last employer, having his computer hacked, having his vehicle damaged and having a heart attack in 2018.

The judge ruled that Krupinski was entitled to past wage loss but agreed with ICBC that there were “several negative factors” that prevented him from finding work after the accident and awarded him no damages for loss of future earning capacity.