ICBC Law

BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

Erik MagrakenThis Blog is authored by British Columbia ICBC injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC injury claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims

Erik Magraken does not work for and is not affiliated in any way with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Please note that this blog is for information only and is not claim-specific legal advice.  Erik can only provide legal advice to clients. Please click here to arrange a free consultation.

Plaintiff Who Failed to “Re-Serve” Opposing Party’s Expert Report Cannot Rely On It

May 30th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding that a party cannot rely on an opposing party’s expert evidence if they fail to ‘re-serve’ the report in the timelines set out in the BC Supreme Court Rules.

In today’s case (Karpowicz v. Glessing) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision and sued for damages.  The Defendant retained and served an expert report.  The Defendant eventually elected not to rely on the report and at trial the Plaintiff tried to use the report in support of his case.  The Court noted that the Plaintiff could not do so as he failed to serve the report as his own pursuant to the BC Supreme Court Rules.  In reaching this decision Madam Justice MacNaughton provided the following reasons:

[40]         On receipt of Ms. Beattie’s report, the plaintiff did not follow the usual practice of immediately re‑serving Ms. Beattie’s report on the defendant as a report on which he intended to rely. The plaintiff also did not attempt to re‑serve the report as a rebuttal report on which he intended to rely on the 42‑day deadline for doing so under Rule 11‑6(4).

[41]         In the process of compiling a joint book of experts’ reports, plaintiff’s counsel was advised by defence counsel that she no longer intended to call Ms. Beattie. In seeking to rely on the report, plaintiff’s counsel argued that as the report had been served, he was entitled to demand that Ms. Beattie be available for cross-examination under Rule 11‑7(3)(b) which states, in relevant part:

(3)  A party of record may demand that an expert whose report has been served on the parties of record under Rule 11-6 attend at the trial for cross-examination as follows:

(b) if the expert was appointed by a party under Rule 11-4 … any party of record who is adverse in interest to the party who appointed that expert may, within the demand period referred to in subrule (2) (a) of this rule, demand the attendance of the expert for cross-examination.

[42]         Plaintiff’s counsel did not refer me to any cases which supported his argument.

[43]         In my view, the plaintiff’s argument is just not supported by the rule. The rules with respect to tendering experts’ reports must be read as a whole, and it is the decision of a party to tender an expert’s evidence at trial which triggers the right of the other party or parties to demand the attendance of the expert for cross-examination.

[44]         For example, Rule 11‑6(1) sets out the formal requirements for a report that is to be tendered. Rule 11‑6(3) and (4) sets out the requirements for service and focus on a report that is to be tendered at trial. Rule 11‑6(6) deals with the requirements for a supplementary report in the event the expert changes his opinion with respect to an expert report that is to be tendered at trial. The focus is on tendered evidence.

[45]         The plaintiff has the burden of proving his case. The defendant is not required to prove anything and, as a result, may elect not to call any evidence and no adverse inference can be drawn from the failure to do so.

[46]         As an alternative argument, the plaintiff submits that I should exercise my discretion to waive the 84‑day deadline for delivery of Ms. Beattie’s report to allow the plaintiff to rely on her report and call her as his witness. He submits that the defendant will not be prejudiced as a result of the late delivery of Ms. Beattie’s report, as the defendants are aware of its content and are able to prepare to cross-examine her on short notice.

[47]         Rule 11‑7(6) describes when the requirements of Rule 11‑6 may be dispensed with:

(6) At trial, the court may allow an expert to provide [expert] evidence, on terms and conditions, if any, even though one or more of the requirements of this Part have not been complied with, if

(a) facts have come to the knowledge of one or more of the parties and those facts could not, with due diligence, have been learned in time to be included in a report or supplementary report and served within the time required by this Part,

(b) the non-compliance is unlikely to cause prejudice

(i) by reason of an inability to prepare for cross-examination, or

(ii) by depriving the party against whom the evidence is tendered of a reasonable opportunity to tender evidence in response, or

(c) the interests of justice require it.

[48]         These provisions are disjunctive, so if any one of them applies, then the report in question may be admissible. For that proposition I cite Kaigo Retirement Communities Ltd. v. Sawchuk Developments Company Ltd., 2014 BCSC 1858 at para. 15, and Perry v. Vargas, 2012 BCSC 1537 at para.s 14 to 15.

[49]         In this case, although the plaintiff did not specifically rely on 11‑7(6) or frame his arguments in terms of the reconsiderations in that rule, the plaintiff’s arguments are essentially that the non‑compliance with the 84‑day deadline is unlikely to cause prejudice and the interests of justice require a waiver of the deadline in this case. I accept that the defendant would not be prejudiced in preparing to cross-examine Ms. Beattie. However, I do not consider this an appropriate case in which to exercise my discretion to waive entirely the 84‑day deadline. In my view, the discretion in Rule 11‑7(6) was intended to abridge the timelines in the rules and not to waive them entirely.

[50]         The practice of re‑serving favourable opposing parties’ experts’ reports is not uncommon in personal injury litigation. It was a procedure which was open to the plaintiff in this case. In addition, the interests of justice in this case do not require a waiver. The plaintiff has obtained and is relying on reports from Jeff Padvaiskas, an occupational therapist, and from Niall Trainor, an expert in vocational rehabilitation. Admittedly, Ms. Beattie’s report is more current, but it does not address new issues and would be duplicative. If the plaintiff was concerned about the dates of his experts’ reports, it was open to him to obtain updated reports, and for these reasons, I conclude that the plaintiff should not be permitted to rely on Ms. Beattie’s report.


Court Allows Video Surveillance Evidence Despite Defence Failing to List Document

May 30th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, allowing the introduction of video surveillance evidence despite counsel failing to disclose this evidence on their list of documents.

In today’s case (Karpowicz v. Glessing) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision and sued for damages.  The Defendant “retained a private investigator and, on June 27, 2016, filmed a short video of the plaintiff at the Vancouver International Airport accompanied by his wife and children.”  Plaintiff’s counsel was provided the video ahead of a mediation but the document was never listed on the Defendant’s formal list of documents.  The Plaintiff objected to the video’s introduction at trial but the Court ruled the evidence was admissible as there was a lack of prejudice from the failed disclosure.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice MacNaughton provided the following reasons:

[34]         I have concluded that the video evidence should be admitted. While I agree that the defendant had a clear obligation under Rule 7‑1(9) to list the video as a document as soon as it came into his possession, I accept defence counsel’s representation that the failure to list the video was not for a tactical advantage at trial. Counsel frankly acknowledged that it was an oversight on her part, and as soon as the plaintiff raised the issue, the video was listed in the supplementary list of documents. The late listing of the video has not caused the plaintiff prejudice.

[35]         If it had been listed in the summer of 2016, presumably it would have been done so as a privileged document. The plaintiff would have known of its existence, but not its content, as the video was not required to be disclosed until the defendant determined to rely on it at trial. On that determination, the video was disclosed to the plaintiff. The disclosure was in advance of the deadline for disclosure in Rule 12‑5(10).

[36]         The plaintiff has had time to consider the video and to prepare to address it in his evidence at trial. The defendant had the right to investigate the plaintiff’s claims and the video is relevant to the issues the plaintiff has put before the court.

[37]         As to the issue of privacy, the video was taken at Vancouver International Airport at the passenger pickup area. The plaintiff and his family had no reasonable expectation of privacy while at the airport. The video focuses on the plaintiff, and the plaintiff’s spouse and the children are incidental to that focus or in the background of the video. Counsel for the defendant has obscured the faces of the children so that they are not identifiable.

[38]         In all these circumstances, I conclude that the video ought to be admitted.


$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Pain With Guarded Prognosis

May 17th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic injuries sustained from two vehicle collisions.

In today’s case (Harry v. Powar) the Plaintiff was a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk in 2012.  She was involved in a rear end collision the following year.  The collisions resulted in ” headaches, chronic myofascial pain syndrome, cervical facet joint syndrome and lumbar facet joint syndrome” with a guarded prognosis for full recovery.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Madam Justice Winteringham provided the following reasons:

[79]         I have found that Ms. Harry’s most significant injuries are the headaches, chronic myofascial pain syndrome, cervical facet joint syndrome and lumbar facet joint syndrome. ..

[84]         Ms. Harry was in her early thirties at the time of the Accidents. Sadly, the symptoms connected to her injuries are ongoing and I accept that her prognosis for a full recovery is guarded although she may experience some improvement with further treatments.

[85]         The evidence demonstrates that Ms. Harry has tried to manage her pain in a way that enables her to carry on with her life.  That is not to say her pain is insignificant.  Rather, I have found that Ms. Harry has done almost all that she can to pursue her career despite the defendants’ negligence.  It is also clear from the evidence that the energy exerted on pursuing her professional endeavours has taken a toll on the other aspects of her life.  She does not have the energy or the physical well being to regularly conduct day-to-day household tasks, engage in social events or participate in physical activity – all of which formed an integral part of her life before the accidents. ..

[90]         In all of the circumstances and taking into account the authorities I have been referred to, I am satisfied that an award of $85,000 will appropriately compensate Ms. Harry for her pain and suffering and loss of past and future enjoyment of life for which the defendants are responsible.    


Kyla Lee is Awesome; BC’s New ICBC Laws Not so Much…

May 17th, 2018

Kyla Lee is a criminal lawyer practicing out of Vancouver well versed in issues relating to BC driving law and issues of fairness with administrative hearings.  Kyla, in a regular column she pens at VancouverisAwesome, had some scathing observations about the realities of BC’s Civil Rights Tribunal being fed ICBC injury claims and the inherent unfairness that British Columbians will face under this soon to be mandatory scheme.

I urge anyone interested in the subject to read the column in full.  The highlights include the following observation:

But the really disturbing part about this that no one has been paying much attention to is how the ability to prescribe by regulation flows together. Not only can regulations enacted by the BC Government increase the amount of the Civil Resolution Tribunal’s jurisdiction but the definition of minor injury can also be amended by regulation.

What this means is that if Government does not like the fact that too many claims are being paid out for a particular type of injury, say, a broken leg, it can call a broken leg a “minor injury” by enacting a quick regulation and suddenly those who have suffered a broken leg are left without a remedy in court. Instead, they are at the mercy of the Civil Resolution Tribunal.

And there are more troubling changes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal legislation that should have the public gravely concerned. The enabling statute has been amended to state explicitly that the tribunal is an expert tribunal in any area where the legislation states they have specialized expertise.

Care to hazard a guess about one area in which a tribunal that has heretofore not dealt with motor vehicle accident claims has specialized expertise? If you guessed motor vehicle accident claims, you are picking up on this disturbing trend.

The specialized expertise designation is of particular importance when considering the ability to appeal decisions of the tribunal. These appeals are known as judicial review.

Under the rules of administrative law, a tribunal with specialized expertise is supposed to be afforded substantial degrees of deference. This means that judges cannot overrule their decisions unless there is a clear error or a clearly unreasonable finding. Moreover, the court is required to defer to the tribunal’s own interpretation of the law in areas where it has specialized expertise. So if the tribunal says that “depression and anxiety” are “psychological conditions” that constitute minor injuries, a court cannot interfere with that finding unless it is unreasonable, even if there are other reasonable interpretations that say otherwise.

Now who is in charge of this ‘specialized tribunal‘?  BC’s Attorney General, the same person in charge of ICBC’s so-called ‘dumpster fire‘.  It does not take an overly critical lens to see concern when the person in charge of ICBC is also in charge of appointing ‘specialists’ subject to limited judicial oversight to adjudicate British Columbians ICBC disputes.


BC Government Passes Discriminatory and Arguably Unconstitutional “Minor” Injury Law

May 10th, 2018

Well the BC Government did it.  Despite a written election promise not to strip British Columbians judicial rights to fix the ‘dumpster fire’ at ICBC they did exactly that.  With an extra dose of hypocrisy they expressly targeted those suffering collision related psychiatric conditions while celebrating “mental health week”.

NDP Election Lie

 

The BC NDP along with the Green Party went ahead and blamed “judges, lawyers and drivers“and passed Bill 20 into law.

Bill 20 Vote

 

 

 

 

Bill 20 breaks the above promise in just about every way possible.    In short Bill 20, along with Bill 22 that was passed earlier this week

This legislation, which will apply to all crashes after April 1, 2019 discriminates against people who sustain psychiatric and psychological conditions and will undoubtedly face constitutional challenge.  Today the BC Trial Lawyers published the below opinion suggesting legal challenge is imminent to this law and the saga of ICBC’s ‘dumpster fire’ and the government’s ill conceived response to it is far from over.

tlabc

 


Is Evidence of a Withdrawn Ticket Admissible in a Personal Injury Prosecution?

May 9th, 2018

This week the BC Court of Appeal had the opportunity to decide if it is appropriate for a jury deciding fault for a crash in the context of a personal injury lawsuit can hear evidence that a motorist was issued a ticket by the police which was ultimately withdrawn before trial.

Unfortunately the BC Court of Appeal sidestepped the question finding that if such evidence is inappropriate, any harm caused by it can be cured by a warning to the Jury.

In today’s case (Jones v. Frohlick) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages.  A jury assessed the Plaintiff’s claim at $30,200 but then cut this down to $4,530 on the basis that they found the Plaintiff 85% at fault for the crash.

In the course of the trial the Defendant introduced evidence that the plaintiff was issued a ticket at the scene for failing to yield the right of way to the Defendant.  The ticket was subsequently withdrawn.  The Plaintiff sought a mistrial but this request was rejected.  In finding no mistrial was warranted and a warning to the jury about the significance of a withdrawn ticket was sufficient the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:

[18]       In his ruling, the judge found that the evidence elicited from Mr. Jones on cross-examination regarding the traffic ticket was relevant as it was part of the narrative of the events that occurred at the scene of the Accident, and that any prejudice it may have caused Mr. Jones could be remedied by an instruction to the jury that they could not place any weight on the fact that the ticket was issued or that it was ultimately withdrawn or dismissed. He also noted that counsel for Mr. Jones would be able to cross-examine the attending officer about the ticket and its withdrawal or dismissal, which might even benefit Mr. Jones’ claim.

[19]       In his instructions to the jury, the judge stated:  

I will deal at the outset with the fact that you heard evidence that Mr. Jones was initially given a ticket at the scene of the accident and that the ticket was later dismissed or withdrawn. Neither the fact of the initial ticket nor the fact of the subsequent dismissal is relevant to your determination of liability here. Your obligation is to determine the issue based on the evidence that you heard in court and the legal principles that I will explain to you.

[25]       Mr. Jones raises an interesting issue of whether the traffic ticket was incorrectly characterized by the judge as “narrative” evidence given that the traffic ticket was unnecessary to explain the context or background of the events at the scene of the Accident as they unfolded, was disputed by him, and was subsequently withdrawn or dismissed. In support of these submissions he relies on R. v. Taweel, 2015 NSCA 107. He submits that, in these circumstances, the evidence was irrelevant and should not have been admitted as its prejudicial effect outweighed its probative value, or lack thereof, and it went to the ultimate issue on liability that was for the jury to decide.

[26]       However, even if the admission of that evidence was erroneous, that is not determinative of the appeal. The determinative issue is, assuming but not deciding that the impugned evidence was inadmissible, whether the prejudice caused by its admission could be remedied by an appropriate and adequate limiting instruction to the jury.

[27]       That brings me to the second ground of appeal: whether the admission of the impugned evidence was so prejudicial that even with an appropriate corrective instruction it would have caused a substantial wrong or would have resulted in a miscarriage of justice.

[31]       The impugned evidence in this case was not inflammatory. Nor was it in my view highly prejudicial as it was potentially open to both unfavourable and favourable inferences to Mr. Jones’ claim, the latter including that the ticket was withdrawn because it had no merit or, as was noted by the judge in his ruling, that it was misguided from the start. In these circumstances, I find no error in the judge’s exercise of his discretion in deciding that a corrective instruction was appropriate to alleviate the potential of any prejudice that may have been caused by the admission of the impugned evidence.

[32]       In my view, the instructions were also adequate. The direction to the jury that they should not consider the fact of the traffic ticket or its subsequent withdrawal or dismissal as part of their deliberations on liability, as it was not relevant to their determination, was clear and unambiguous, and therefore forceful. The instruction could not have been misunderstoods by the jury as permitting them to consider the impugned evidence, not only in assessing the evidence as a whole, but also in assessing the credibility of the witnesses and of Mr. Jones’ evidence in particular. As this Court stated in Paskall v. Scheithauer, 2014 BCCA 26 at para. 37:

…once it is determined that a corrective instruction was appropriate and adequate, the matter ends. This Court must assume that juries act judicially and responsibly, that is, the instructions of trial judges are followed “unless there is a clear basis for finding otherwise” (Hovianseian v. Hovianseian, 2005 BCCA 61 at para 25). It is not appropriate for this Court to speculate on whether the jury may have disregarded the judge’s corrective instruction.

[33]       The adequacy of the judge’s instructions is also evident in the final award by the jury. While undoubtedly not embraced by either side, it cannot be said that the award for non-pecuniary damages of $24,000 would not meet the test in Nance v. British Columbia Electric Railway, [1951] 3 D.L.R. 705 (P.C.) in that it was inordinately high or low, or that the total award of damages was “wholly disproportionate or shockingly unreasonable” (Young v. Bella, 2006 SCC 3 at para. 64).

[34]       In the result, I would dismiss the appeal.


BC Psychologists Speak Out Against ICBC Plan to Label Psychiatric Conditions as “Minor Injuries”

May 4th, 2018

As recently discussed the BC Government, at the lobbying of ICBC, are trying to pass a law reducing the rights of British Columbians who are injured by distracted, impaired or otherwise at fault drivers.

As part of the overhaul ICBC is trying to label all psychological and psychiatric conditions as “minor” injuries, taking away the judicial rights of people who suffer these injuries in collisions and capping compensation for these.

Today the BC Psychological Association weighed in on these proposed laws and unsurprisingly are harshly critical.  In discussing the medical reality of psychological injuries the BCPA notes as follows –

The British Columbia Psychological Association opposes the inclusion of “a psychological or psychiatric condition” in the definition of “minor injury” in Bill 20.  We feel it will be detrimental to the health and care of British Columbians who sustain injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

Under Bill 20, any psychological or psychiatric condition arising from a motor vehicle accident is deemed to be minor, unless it has not resolved within 12 months from the MVA, and also meets, as yet undefined, prescribed criteria. 

BCPA disagrees and takes the positions that:

  • Psychological injuries are not minor injuries. Each individual is unique in their symptoms. 
     
  • It is very difficult to determine the twelve-month outcome of a psychological injury as it may be affected by pain, restrictions in functioning due to physical injuries, and pre-accident history, including prior history of depression, anxiety, substance use, adverse early childhood experiences, including neglect and trauma, poor coping styles, and cultural factors.
     
  • The duration of symptoms after an event is not an appropriate scientific measure of the severity of the psychological injury.
     
  • Psychological conditions may arise at different times after a collision, depending upon a number of factors. Many potentially severe psychological conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, may have an initial onset shortly after, or months after, a collision. 
     
  • Psychological conditions may appear to resolve, only to recur at a later date due to a change in circumstance, prolonged recovery, or a triggering event such as a return to work, a return to driving, or anniversary of the collision. 
     
  • Bill 20 gives Government the authority to make regulations with respect to assessment, diagnosis and treatment of minor injuries (including psychological injuries). Because of the unique circumstances of each individual, psychological injuries do not lend themselves to such an approach. Each individual must be assessed by a qualified psychology professional and prescribed the treatment that will best lead to an optimal recovery for them. 
     
  • If the appropriate treatment is not commenced as psychological symptoms manifest, it may lead to prolonged suffering, delayed return to work, impaired activities of daily living, and in increased treatment and wage loss costs in the long run.
     
  • Removing psychological and psychiatric conditions from the “minor injury” designation will help achieve the goal of people receiving better care and optimal recovery in the shortest time possible.
     
  • BCPA is also concerned with the proposed amendments to the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act.
     
  • Under the Act, the determination of whether an injury is “minor” and the entitlement to benefits from ICBC, is exclusively given to the Civil Resolution Tribunal.
     
  • Those suffering from psychological conditions are ill-equipped to deal with an appeal process on their own.
     
  • It is also unlikely that many of those people will be able to have the assistance of a lawyer in this process.
     
  • This process, online and/or in person, also puts at a disadvantage the elderly, people without computers or computer skills, those with poor English language skills, and those of limited means.
     
  • BCPA applauds this government’s efforts to address the mental health and addictions issues of British Columbians, but classifying psychological and psychiatric conditions as “minor” runs the risk of taking a step back in the treatment of psychological injuries arising from a car accident.

“Marginal Difference” Between Trial Result and ICBC Settlement Offer Results in Full Costs to Plaintiff

May 2nd, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, awarding a Plaintiff full trial costs after the Plaintiff failed to beat an ICBC settlement offer by a “marginal difference“.

In today’s case (Goguen v. Maddalena) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision the Defendant accepted fault for.  The Plaintiff proceeded to trial where he was awarded total damages of $174,360.84.

Prior to trial ICBC made a formal offer to settle for $175,000.  The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff should be deprived of some of his post offer costs for failing to beat the settlement attempt.  In finding that a “marginal difference” does not warrant such an outcome Madam Justice Forth provided the following reasons:

[39]         The plaintiff submits that the Defendant’s Offer was greater than the judgment amount by only $639.16, or approximately 0.5%. He argues that this marginal difference should afford little weight. In support, the plaintiff cites Saopaseuth v. Phavongkham, 2015 BCSC 45 at para. 74, in which Bernard J. noted that an award 2% greater than an offer to settle “suggests that little weight should be given to this factor”. Furthermore, in Zhao v. Yu, 2015 BCSC 2342 at para. 11, Baker J. held that an offer that exceeded an award by $1,800 was “of little significance in arriving at a decision about costs”.

[40]         The defendant submits that the Defendant’s Offer was only with respect to the plaintiff’s tort claim and that acceptance of the offer would have allowed the plaintiff to collect Part 7 ICBC benefits. Therefore, the Defendant’s Offer exceeds the trial award by a larger margin that what appears on its face.

[41]         The plaintiff, in reply, submits that he understood that any settlement offers made by the defendant were full settlements of both the tort claim and Part 7 claims against ICBC, and that at no time did defence counsel convey that Part 7 benefits would still be available in the event that the Defendant’s Offer was accepted.

[42]         With respect to Part 7 benefits, I note the first page of the Defendant’s Offer reads in part:

The Settlement Payment:

(a)     is offered after taking into account Part 7 benefits paid or payable, pursuant to section 25 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231 (in respect of policies in force before June 1, 2007) and/or pursuant to section 83 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231 (in respect of policies in force on or after June 1, 2007);

[43]         Neither counsel have provided submissions on the implications of this settlement term or the quantum of Part 7 benefits that would have likely been available to the plaintiff. As a result, it would be speculative of me to attach significant weight to the submissions on these points.

[44]         Considering the marginal difference between the Defendant’s Offer and the ultimate award, this factor is of little significance in my determination…

[52]         Taken together, the factors pursuant to subrule 9-1(6) weigh in favor of the plaintiff. As a result, I exercise my discretion to award the plaintiff costs pursuant to R 9-1(5)(c). The plaintiff is entitled to his costs at Scale B.


New Insurance Law Looks to Give ICBC and Government Control Over Your Health Care Choices

May 1st, 2018

I’ve written extensively about some of the troubling changes the government is proposing for collision victims through their ICBC legal reforms.  One topic that has yet to receive any press, and is perhaps as concerning as any, is the Government’s proposal to give ICBC and themselves total power over what therapies collision victims receive.

If you are injured in a crash by a careless driver you have the right to choose your own health care treatments.  If these expenses are deemed ‘reasonable’ you are entitled to be paid back the full cost of your expenses from the at fault driver’s insurance company (usually ICBC for BC based crashes).

This will all change if the NDP pass Bill 20.  Instead an injured collision victim will be stripped in their ability to recover actual ‘health care losses’ from ICBC and recovery is reduced only to an amount that the government establishes by regulation.  If your actual medical costs exceed this you are out of luck.  The government is stripping your right to sue for the difference.  Specifically proposed s. 82.2 reads as follows:

Liability limited for health care costs

82.2  (1) In this section, “health care loss” means a cost or expense incurred or to be incurred for health care provided by a health care practitioner.

(2) In an action for damages caused by a vehicle or the use or operation of a vehicle, a person may not recover, for a health care loss, an amount that exceeds one of the following:

(a) the amount, if any, that is established or determined for the particular health care loss under a regulation under section 45.1 (1) (a);

(b) in any other case, the value of the particular health care loss.

(3) If, for the purposes of this section, it is necessary to estimate the value of a health care loss, the value must be estimated according to the value the deferred health care loss has on the date of the estimate determined in accordance with subsection (2).

(4) This section applies only in relation to a health care loss resulting from an accident occurring on or after April 1, 2019.

If you are concerned about these changes contact your MLA and speak up now.  Bill 22 is set to pass into law imminently and time to persuade government to divert course is quickly running out.


ICBC “Minor Injury” Tribunal Designed To Be Unfair

April 27th, 2018

This week the BC Government is debating amendments to laws creating the Civil Resolution Tribunal to expand their powers to have mandatory jurisdiction over “minor” injury litigation.

As previously discussed, the word “minor” is being used to mislead the public.  The Government has defined the word to include many serious and disabling injuries including

  • Chronic Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Conversion Disorders
  • Chronic Pain Syndromes
  • Chronic physical injuries
  • Disabling physical injuries
  • All psychological “conditions”
  • All psychiatric “conditions”

In any event, the Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act which may pass into law as early as next week takes away the right of British Columbians injured by careless drivers on our roadways to go to court.  Instead this law requires you to go to a Tribunal that will decide whether you have a “minor” injury and your level of compensation which will also be capped.

In debate this week the Government admits that their purpose in funnelling claims here is to create an unfair landscape.  They expressly state they hope to discourage the injured party from hiring a lawyer and to have you face an ICBC “specialist” in the dispute.

Here is our Attorney General expressly stating the intent of the legislation is to discourage people from hiring a lawyer when they are forced to litigate an injury claim:

The intent is to have this tribunal operate in most cases without counsel. You’ll see, in this section that we’re talking about, that we’re making an exception, saying: 

“Look, if you really want to bring a lawyer here, given the amount of money that you’re going to pay in legal fees and the amount that’s under dispute, which by definition under this act, is less than $50,000…. If you really want to bring a lawyer, you can bring a lawyer. But the amount of money that you’re going to spend on your lawyer is going to eat up a lot of your award, so it’s probably not to your interest.”

So, the Government has created a system where they don’t want you to have a lawyer.  And who do they want you to face in the Tribunal?  An ICBC “specialist.“.

Again, from our Attorney General

The intention is currently that an ICBC adjuster would attend. ICBC would be the respondent to the claim. So when someone who has been in an accident doesn’t agree with what the adjuster has said their claim is worth…. they can go to the civil resolution tribunal to have that dispute heard. There has to be someone on the other side saying here’s what we think the claim is worth. Currently, ICBC’s thinking is…. that that person would be an adjuster….They are specialists in determining the value of claims.

So those people would be attending the hearing, making representations to the tribunal about what their position is — what the claim is worth. The person who was in the accident makes representation, with their medical records and their costs and so on, to the tribunal about what they think the claim is worth. Then the tribunal would make a decision

So there you have it.  The purpose of the government’s new law is to reduce your right to compensation when injured by a distracted or impaired driver and if you don’t like it to have your dispute heard, without a lawyer, facing an insurance company paid for “specialist”.