Can a single settlement offer exceed an award in a motor vehicle accident?

British Columbia, Canada


The following excerpt is from B.S.A. Investors Ltd. and Gang Ranch Ltd. v. Mosly et al., 2005 BCSC 703 (CanLII):

Unfortunately, the case law in this area is inconsistent. In Starling v. Martin 1996 B.C.J. No. 2486 (S.C.), a decision of Dillon J., the plaintiff was awarded damages in connection with two motor vehicle accidents. A single offer had been made to the two defendants which exceeded the award. In that case, double costs were ordered. At para. 7, Dillon J. said: Here the actions were ordered to be tried together and, in that sense, became a single proceeding. Any ambiguity in the terms of the offer related only to the differentiation of amounts in the two actions. The rule should not be interpreted so strictly as to require two offers to settle to be made when actions are to be tied together and the damages are so intertwined that a single settlement offer is appropriate. If the receiver of the offer required differentiation of settlement amounts in the two actions, it should have requested clarification of the settlement in that regard.

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