Insurance Business ICBC agrees to settle and pay surrogacy fees in first of its kind case

ICBC agrees to settle and pay surrogacy fees in first of its kind case The Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) recently chose to not only pay the settlement for a Nanaimo crash victim, but to also cover for her surrogacy treatment, after an unfortunate vehicular accident left her grievously injured and at-risk should she attempt to bear a child.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mikaela Wilhelmson was involved in a collision that left her permanently and severely injured on August 13, 2011. Her boyfriend Jarrett Swackhamer, 21, and his friend, Jovan Salapura, 52, were both fatally injured when the driver of the other vehicle drove into their car at over 150 km/hr on the wrong side of the highway. The driver of the other vehicle, 37-year-old Jason Dumma, also perished as a result of the incident.

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Wilhelmson had to be airlifted from the crash scene to Vancouver General Hospital due to her life-threatening injuries. She was kept in a medically-induced coma for four weeks and spent more than a month in the acute care unit receiving 10 surgeries. Her injuries were so severe, that while she is capable of getting pregnant, she is unable to safely bear a child.

It took Wilhelmson six years to wrest compensation from the ICBC for her injuries. Justice Neena Sharma awarded the injured woman $882,066 on April 13 for the cost of her future care, The Province reported. Wilhelmson was also awarded the maximum of $367,000 for pain and suffering and $2.4 million for loss of capacity to earn income.

Notably, an additional $100,000 was awarded to Wilhelmson for surrogacy fees for two pregnancies.

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Although it is illegal for women in Canada to serve as surrogates for pregnancy, many Canadian women come to the US to receive the service.

During the trial, Wilhelmson’s lawyer asked for a specific award to cover surrogacy fees, to which ICBC’s lawyers contested, arguing that the service is illegal.

“The judge agreed with our position that because it is legal for a Canadian citizen to go to the US and hire a surrogate, compensating for that is not illegal,” lawyer Conrad Margolis, representing Wilhelmson, said. “It’s the right option for Ms. Wilhelmson.”

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