ICBC Law

BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

"Please My Lord, No Jury For My ICBC Claim"

Did you know that either side to an ICBC claim in BC Supeme Court can elect trial by Jury (unless of course the claim is being prosecuted under Rule 66 or 68).

One of the practical effects of trial by Jury is that it makes claims longer and more expensive. I won’t get into all the reasons of why this is at this time but it is generally true.

ICBC often sets claims for jury trials when they involve Low Velocity Impacts or involve injuries with little objective verification.

What if you don’t want a trial by Jury? Can you do anything about it? The answer is sometimes.

Rule 39(27) of the BC Supreme Court rules deals with when a court may refuse a jury trial. One of the main challenges to trial by Jury is that the claims is to complex for the jury to deal with.

Such an applicaiton was brought recently and rejected by Master Tokarek who released written reasons for his decision today.

In this case the Plaintiff sued for various injuries sustained in a series of 4 accidents. In this case there was a significant amount of medical evidence that the Jury would have to deal with. The Plaintiff tried to get rid of ICBC’s jury notice arguing that “in light of all of the available reports, this matter is too complex and intricate for a jury to deal with“.

The court rejected this argument finding that

My impression, upon reading those reports, is that although there are a great many reports to deal with, they do not strike me as being overly complex or difficult. In fact, one or more of the reports, the exact numbers of which I neglect to make a note of so I cannot refer specifically to them in these reasons, but nevertheless one or more of these reports struck me as being very impressive in the way in which the author laid out in layman’s terms some of the definitions and explanations of what the symptoms and injuries were all about……There is in British Columbia, as plaintiff’s counsel candidly admitted, a very strong right to a party to choose a trial by jury, subject to the restrictions imposed by legislation, and therefore the onus does fall to the plaintiff to make its case that the defendant ought not to have its right to a jury trial. As I have said, I believe that the plaintiff has fallen short of satisfying that onus in this particular case.

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