‘I cannot go back to work’: Legal fees eat up nearly 70% of B.C. woman’s ICBC settlement

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It’s being described as the perfect example of a broken insurance system.

A B.C. woman received just $70,000 out of a $243,495 settlement from ICBC.

Global News is identifying the woman as Missy and protecting her identity out of her fears she will be sued by her own lawyers.

Missy was involved in a crash in 2008. Another person in her vehicle was killed in the crash and the other driver was found responsible.

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In an emotional interview, Missy said her injuries have cost more than $100,000 to deal with and that they have left her without the ability to work.

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“It isn’t really sufficient enough for me to live,” she said. “Considering I cannot go back to work because I am not employable.”

Global News has reviewed a copy of Missy’s invoice. She received her payment in 2019, 11 years after the crash.

READ MORE: 2020 budget projects ICBC finally out of deficit

Of the $243,495 payment from ICBC, the legal fees were $164,759.85. Included in those fees were $84,778.07 in expert reports.

She was originally charged $49,004.15 in interest payments, which would have driven her settlement down, but the lawyers waived that fee.

“I feel like I was not treated right and I had to file for bankruptcy,” Missy said.

The Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia turned down requests for an interview about Missy’s case and the issue of expert reports.

The provincial government introduced legislation on Monday that would cut down on the use of expert reports in ICBC settlement cases.

READ MORE: B.C. government axing lawyer, legal costs to create no-fault style insurance at ICBC

The province is introducing amendments to the Evidence Act that will limit the number of experts and expert reports that can be used in court on the issue of damages.

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What adds to Missy’s frustration is her case never went to court, and was settled between her lawyer and ICBC’s.

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“I don’t know why they sent me to so many specialists and they have no intention to go to court,” Missy said.

“Why they are going to study it when they aren’t going to use it?”

Attorney General David Eby says Missy’s case is a perfect example of what he describes as a “broken system.”

Eby says a case like this would have cost the system not just the payout but all the legal costs picked up by ICBC as well.

“It probably cost more than $350,000 to deliver $70,000 worth of benefits,” Eby said.

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“Which is totally outrageous. I don’t blame the lawyers, it’s just so obvious the system is broken.”

READ MORE: B.C. government introduces legislation to cap expert reports in ICBC settlement cases

Last year the province attempted to limit expert reports but the change, which was expected to save the province $400 million in this year’s budget, was defeated in court.

B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled the B.C. government’s limits on expert reports were unconstitutional because they violated the powers of a court’s control over its processes.

But Eby says the new legislation addresses those concerns.

“The judge wanted to have discretion in unusual situations and I hope we have addressed that,” Eby said.