Gross vs. Net Special Damages At Trial in ICBC Claims

Special Damages are out of pocket expenses a Plaintiff incurs as a result of the fault of another.  In an ICBC claim some of the typical special damages are costs for therapies and medication.
When a tort claim goes to trial a Plaintiff is entitled to recover their special damages from the at fault party.  There is a very important exception to this in ICBC Claims, and that is if the Plaintiff’s special damages are covered by his own ‘no-fault’ insurance from ICBC an at fault defendant is entitled to reduce the amount of special damages by the amount the Plaintiff claimed or could have claimed under their own policy of insurance.  (You can click here to read a previous post of mine for more background on this topic)
At trial, then, should a Plaintiff advance a claim only for expenses that have not already been covered by ICBC or should they advance a claim for all of their out of pocket expenses?  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal addressing this.
In today’s case (Gasior v. Bayes) the Plaintiff was injured when his bicycle was struck by a vehicle.  At trial a Jury awarded the Plaintiff $488,500.  The trial judge then reduced portions of this award to account for ‘no-fault’ benefits the Plaintiff would be entitled to.
ICBC, on behalf of the defendant, appealed arguing that the trial judge was incorrect in some of her deductions.   The Defendant claimed that a Plaintiff has to advance all of their special damages at trial (including money already reimbursed by ICBC) so that a proper deduction can be made after the special damages are assessed.  The Court of Appeal disagreed and provided the following useful practice tip:
[17] The defendants argued that under the provisions of s. 25 of the Act, it was only appropriate for a plaintiff to advance a claim for all special damages (gross basis), allow the trier of fact to pass on this figure and make an award, and thereafter permit the defendant to deduct from such award all no-fault benefits previously advanced.  This methodology has some attraction on the basis of simplicity (and avoidance of the sort of confusion that seems to have bedevilled this case).  However, as pointed out by counsel for the plaintiff, when trying to conform to such methodology in a case before a jury, it becomes very difficult to avoid references to insurance and the insurer.  As well, it may be difficult for a plaintiff to become aware of all expenditures paid on a no-fault basis by the insurer.  If these hurdles could be satisfactorily overcome, the methodology argued for by the defendants may be preferable, but I consider that advancement of a special damages claim on a net basis can be an acceptable approach, especially in a jury trial.  That methodology which will most effectively avoid the possibility of any infringement of the rule against double recovery is to be favoured and I would leave it to the good sense of counsel and trial judges to seek to achieve such result in any given case.  Clear communications between respective counsel and the trial judge are essential for the achievement of such result.  I would note there was some deficiency in clarity of communication in this case.

ICBC Wage Loss Benefits – Definition of "Employed Person" Discussed


If a person insured with ICBC is disabled as a result of a motor vehicle collision they may qualify for disability benefits from ICBC under their own policy of insurance.  These are often referred to as Part 7 TTD benefits or Part 7 Wage Loss Benefits.
One necessary condition for these benefits is that the injured person needs to be an “employed person“.  If a person is not employed at the time of the accident they may still qualify for disability benefits from ICBC if they were  ‘employed or actively engaged in an occupation for wages or profit for any 6 months during the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of the accident.’  Reasons for judgement were released today discussing this definition of ‘employed person‘.
In today’s case (Pavlovich v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was injured in a rollover accident.  The medical evidence was uncontradicted that his accident related injuries “temporarily totally disabled him from his regular employment as a journeyman carpenter (for about 6 months) from the date of the accident“.
The Plaintiff was not actively working at the time of the crash but had worked about 1,100 hours in the year before the accident.  He argued that in these circumstances he is an ’employed person’ entitled to disability benefits from ICBC.  ICBC refused to pay the wage loss benefit arguing the Plaintiff did not meet the definition of employed person under Part 7 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation.
Mr. Justice Rogers was asked to resolve this dispute.  The Court agreed with ICBC and in doing so made the following useful comments about the definition of ‘employed person‘ for the purpose of receiving ICBC Part 7 disability benefits:

[8] For the purpose of entitlement to temporary total disability benefits under Part 7 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, the claimant must be an “employed person”. An “employed person” is defined by s. 78 of the Regulation and means a person:

(a) who, on the date of an accident for which a claim is made, is employed or actively engaged in an occupation for wages or profit, or

(b) who…

(ii)        for any 6 months during the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of an accident for which a claim is made is employed or actively engaged in an occupation for wages or profit.

[9] As noted, the parties agreed that the plaintiff was not employed on the date of the accident. Accordingly, if the plaintiff is to qualify for temporary total disability benefits, it must be on the basis of his being an “employed person” within the meaning of subsection (b) of the definition….

[17] The plaintiff’s interpretation of the Regulation suffers several flaws. One such is the fact that in practice it would result in absurdities of its own. For example, if the plaintiff has it right that under subsection (b) “employed person” status may be achieved by working more than 1,000 hours in the 12 months preceding an injury, one person might accumulate all the necessary hours by working intensely for only 2 or 3 months, while another person might never qualify because of his part?time employment and work for only a few hours every week. The part?timer might work for, say, 11.9 months immediately before his injury and be laid off the day before his accident; yet, because of his part?time status, he may not have accumulated the 1,000 hours the plaintiff’s interpretation would require of him before he could be an “employed person” under subsection (b). This would lead to the absurd result of a part?time person working up to the day before an accident not being employed for the purposes of the Regulation, while a person who worked like the devil over only 2 months would qualify for benefits. This result would be directly contrary to the plain meaning of the words of the Regulation.

[18] Another flaw in the plaintiff’s interpretation is its reliance on counting hours to qualify as an employed person. This might theoretically work if everyone toiled, as the plaintiff did, for an hourly wage. That is not, however, the way things are. Some people are paid by the task, as in a seamstress’s piece?work, some are paid a salary and no account is kept of the hours they work, some are paid on pure commission and the hours they work may bear no relation at all to their income and so the number of hours they work are irrelevant. Counting hours of work is simply not a practical way to fashion the broad?based and universal test for qualification for disability benefits under the Regulation.

[19] A much more sensible and practical interpretation, and the interpretation that is consistent with the Regulation’s plain language, is the interpretation that the defendant propounds. The Regulation stipulates that to be an employed person the claimant must have been employed for 6 of the 12 months immediately preceding the injury. It is the being employed, not the amount of work done, during those 6 months that counts. Put another way, a person who works part?time for 6 months is, for the purposes of the Regulation, no less employed that the person who works 18 hours a day for the same period.

[20] I find that whether one excludes or includes the plaintiff’s house renovation work, the arithmetic of the plaintiff’s situation does not yield enough weeks of work for him to be said to have been employed for 6 of the 12 months before the accident.

Understanding The 2 Roles of ICBC – "Your" and "Their" Insurer

Here is a brief video I’ve uploaded to YouTube discussing ICBC’s dual role and some information you should know before you place your first call to ICBC after being injured in a BC motor vehicle accident:

As readers of this Blog undoubtedly know, ICBC is a British Columbia monopoly auto insurer which usually plays 2 roles in BC auto injury claims.  When you are injured by another BC motorist who is at fault and you and they are insured with ICBC, ICBC will not only need to process your claim for Part 7 Benefits but also process the tort claim you are making against the at fault motorist.   I hope the information covered in this video is of assistance.

Massage Therapy and ICBC Part 7 Medical Benefits

(UPDATE: November 29, 2011 – the below case was upheld today by the BC Court of Appeal.  Reasons can be found here)

Reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with the scope of ICBC’s obligations under Part 7 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation.  These benefits are commonly referred to as Part 7 Benefits (Click here for some background on these).
In today’s case (Raguin v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was insured with ICBC and incurred several hundred dollars in massage therapy expenses.  ICBC refused to pay for these and the Plaintiff sued.
At trial ICBC’s lawyer argued that “Massage therapy is not a ‘treatment’ contemplated under section 88 of the regulations“.
Mr. Justice McKinnon disagreed with ICBC’s position and called it ‘without merit‘.  The court went on to hold that “Section 88 is not a section that restricts Section 7 benefits to a prescribed list of treatments.  Rather it is a general section that simply sets out an obligation to provide treatments that are recommended by a physician.  The treatments that are set out in section 88 are merely a general list subject to expansion, as indeed various cases that have been cited have expanded…The doctor ‘recommended’ massage therapy, which in my view is sufficient to trigger an obligation to pay.”
Unless this case is overturned on appeal it is beneficial for BC Injury Victims to have clarity that Part 7 of the Regulations covers massage therapy expenses even though these are not specifically mentioned in the regulation.

BC Court of Appeal On The Deductibility of Part 7 Benefits in Tort Actions

Further to my post yesterday on the Deductibility of Part 7 Benefits in BC Tort Actions the BC Court of Appeal made some interesting comments with respect to these in reasons for judgement released today.
In today’s case (Boota v. Dhaliwal) the Plaintiff was awarded just over $170,000 in total damages by a jury as a result of a 2003 Car Crash.  The trial judge reduced part of the Jury Award by $1,000 as an assessment of the benefits that the Plaintiff was entitled to receive from ICBC under his policy of insurance.  The Defendants, who were insured with ICBC, appealed this portion of the judgement arguing that a far greater amount should have been deducted from the jury award.
The Court of Appeal Dismissed this appeal and in doing so made the following useful comments:

[72] I turn to consider the question of whether the trial judge in this case erred in estimating the s. 25 deduction either by incorporating a matching approach or by considering the likelihood of ICBC paying benefits.

[73] As noted already, the jury awarded the appellant $28,205 for the cost of future care.  The jury was not asked to specify the items of future care which it awarded, though there seems to be no reason where the claim is advanced as a pecuniary one that the jury could not be required to particularize this part of the award.  The trial judge deducted $1,000.  Because it is possible the appellant may in the future apply for, and receive, payment under Part 7, there exists the risk that he will be doubly compensated.  However, the trial judge held that he was unlikely to be paid and therefore assessed a nominal deduction.  ..

The respondents argued at trial that the appellant was not entitled to the $218,893 – $377,273 he claimed as future cost of care.  The defence largely succeeded in that argument.  I infer the jury found either that the bulk of the future expenses claimed were unnecessary, or if they were necessary, the condition for which they were necessary was not caused by the motor vehicle accident.  The respondents cannot now succeed in arguing that the appellant’s entire claim  for future cost of care as advanced at trial (one which the appellant pressed at trial, has now been judicially determined to be largely without merit) ought to reduce the entirety of his tort award.  I would not accede to this argument.  This is not a question of matching Part 7 claims to specific heads of damage in tort, which Gurniak says is wrong, but rather a question of not estimating claims under Part 7 in a manner opposite to what has already been found in this case to be unnecessary or unrelated to the motor vehicle accident.

[82] That leaves for consideration the question of the award of $28,205 for future cost of care and whether the trial judge erred in making only a nominal estimate under s. 25.

[83] The s. 25 estimate should be, as it was here, based upon the evidence and arguments advanced at the trial:  Coates v. Marioni, 2009 BCSC 686 at para 35; Schmitt v. Thomson (1996), 132 D.L.R. (4th) 310, 70 B.C.A.C. 290 at para. 19.

[84] Section 25(5) says that the “court must estimate” the amount of benefits to which the claimant is entitled.  That necessarily involves some kind of itemized examination of benefits that the appellant may claim in the future under Part 7.  After all, how else is the court to perform the estimate?  Gurniak has been interpreted to mean that this s. 25 assessment or estimate is not to be matched with heads of damage claimed in the tort action for deductibility purposes, but that interpretation does not preclude the court from taking into account the itemized amounts claimed in the tort claim when making its estimate under s. 25.  I recognize that in advancing its s. 25 claim the respondent is not limited to specific items claimed by the appellant in the tort action, although usually one would expect some overlap between the future cost of care and the estimate of items to be deducted under s. 25.

[85] The trial judge may exercise caution in her findings about the likelihood that ICBC would in the future pay any benefits under s. 88 of the Regulations:  Schmitt at para. 19.  The trial judge may have regard to the position taken at trial.  (Uhrovic v. Masjhuri, 2008 BCCA 462, 86 B.C.L.R. (4th) 15 at paras. 37–42).  Should the trial judge take into account the verdict in her assessment of the likelihood of payment?  In my view that is one of the considerations that may be taken into account in adopting a cautious approach.  In my view, the trial judge may properly infer that the same considerations propounded by ICBC at trial, and which appear to have been reflected in the damage award, may determine ICBC’s position on an application for payment of future benefits.

[86] In summary, the Court may take into account the evidence and submission on necessity and causation in assessing the likelihood of ICBC paying the Part 7 expenses.  This is so because those same factors are pre-conditions for payment under Part 7.  It was implicit in the comments of the trial judge at paras. 51 and 53 of her reasons for judgment that she considered the appellant was unlikely to be entitled to receive payment under Part 7.  I cannot say that she erred in her conclusion.  I would not accede to this argument.

The reason this case is important is because, as I wrote yesterday, often times ICBC refuses to provide Part 7 Benefits and then has their lawyer in the tort trial argue that these benefits should have been paid thereby giving the Defendant a statutory deduction.  In today’s case BC Court of Appeal specifically stated that it is proper for a trial judge to look at the Defendant’s trial position during the damage assessment portion (where the lawyer usually argues that the Plaintiff’s expenses are unreasonable) and infer that this mirrors ICBC’s position when considering the payment of Part 7 benefits.

The Importance of Pursuing Part 7 Benefits in an ICBC Injury Claim

I’ve previously written about the important role Part 7 Benefits play in ICBC Injury Claims. In short if you are entitled to receive Part 7 Benefits under your policy of insurance and don’t pursue these the Defendant who is responsible for injuring you in a BC Motor Vehicle Collision can reduce the amount of damages that they have to pay you by the amount of benefits you should have received.
This argument can be made by a Defendant in a lawsuit even if the injured person applied for the benefits and ICBC refused to pay them.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court showing this principle of BC Injury Law in action.
In this week’s case (Sauer v. Scales) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2004 BC Car Crash and successfully sued the at fault motorist and was awarded damages of over $300,000 (click here to read my post discussing the trial judgement)
After reasons were pronounced the Defendant’s lawyer brought a motion to reduce a portion of the award as it covered damages for benefits that the Plaintiff could have received from ICBC under his own policy of insurance.  Specifically the motion was brought relying on Section 83 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act which holds in part that “A person who has a claim for damages…who…is entitled to receive benefits respecting the loss on which the claim is based is deemed to have released the claim to the extent of the benefits
The Plaintiff argued that this application was an abuse of process because he applied to have the benefits paid from ICBC directly but the adjuster cut him off claiming that “the accident did not cause the injuries“.
As with most ICBC Injury Claims I presume the same adjuster that told this to the Plaintiff was also responsible for the defence of the Plaintiff’s lawsuit against the at fault motorist (click here to read more about this conflict of interest).    The Plaintiff argued that ” the onus is on the defendant to establish that a deduction should be made under s. 83(5) of the Act. …the defendant chose to interpret Part 7 of the Regulation in a manner which initially severely restricted the plaintiff’s claim, and subsequently interpreted his entitlement to include virtually all of the damages for cost of future care awarded to him by the Court.  In addition, the plaintiff says that ICBC ignored requests for particulars in the plaintiff’s Part 7 action, and directed the plaintiff to include Part 7 items in his tort claim.  The plaintiff submits that this is a case where ICBC took an extreme position on the plaintiff’s entitlement to Part 7 benefits, and then resiled from that position for the purpose of seeking a deduction from the judgment equalling the plaintiff’s cost of future care award.
Ultimately Mr. Justice Cohen agreed with the Defendant and held that ICBC’s refusal to pay for requested Part 7 Benefits under the Plaintiff’s policy of insurance does not prevent the ICBC appointed Defence Lawyer in the tort claim to argue that the benefits should have been paid.  The Court went on to reduce the judgement by $25,000 for monies that could have been received from ICBC as No Fault Benefits.  Mr. Justice Cohen provides a comprehensive summary of this area of law at paragraphs 11-18 of the decision that are worth reviewing in full.
This case goes to show that Part 7 benefits need to be pursued vigorously otherwise one can limit the amount of damages and benefits available after a BC Car Crash.

ICBC Part 7 Benefits and the Definition of Vehicle "Occupant"

Reasons for judgment were released today involving a tragic BC Pedestrian/Truck Crash addressing an injured Plaintiff’s entitlement to “no-fault” accident benefits.
In today’s case (Schuk v. York Fire & Casualty Insurance Company) the Plaintiff was outside of the vehicle (which was hauling a trailer) she was riding in for the purpose of putting chains on it.  While doing so she was struck by a tractor-trailer unit and suffered catastrophic injuries.  Her vehicle and the various trailers of the vehicles involved were insured with different companies.  The Plaintiff applied for ‘no-fault‘ accident benefits to all of the insurers and they all refused payment because they could not agree which of them was responsible for paying the benefits.
The obligation for ICBC to pay no-fault benefits turns in part on whether a person is “insured“.  The definition of an “insured” is contained in s. 78 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation and includes “an occupant of a vehicle that is licenced in the Province…” and “a pedestrian who collides with a vehicle described in an owner’s certificate” The determination of which insurer was ultimately responsible to pay the Plaintiff her benefits turned on whether she was an “occupant” of her vehicle at the time of this accident or a “pedestrian“.
Mr. Justice Myers held that the Plaintiff was a “pedestrian” and in so doing made the following observations with respect to the test for being an “occupant“:

[16]    The Regulation defines occupant, but does not define pedestrian.  Occupant is defined in s. 1(1) as follows:

“occupant” means a person operating or riding in a vehicle or camper and includes

(a)        a person entering or alighting from a vehicle or camper, and

(b)        a person, other than a garage service operator or an employee of a garage service operator, who is working, or whose dependant is working, in or on a vehicle or camper owned by that person;

[17]    There are a large number of cases which have addressed this issue in factual situations similar or analogous to the case at bar.  For example, in Kyriazis v. Royal Insurance Co. of Canada (1991), 82 D.L.R. (4th) 691 (Ont. Gen. Div.), affirmed (1993), 107 D.L.R. (4th) 288 (C.A.), the plaintiff pulled his car over to clean the snow off its windshield. Abbey J. held that he was not an occupant.  In doing so, Abbey J. rejected a line of authority – primarily from the United States – which applied what was referred to as a “zone of connection test”.  That test regarded the intent of the injured person as a significant determining factor of whether he or she was an occupant when not inside the vehicle.  Abbey J. focussed on the definition of occupant contained in the insurance policy before him, which was virtually identical to that in the Regulation.  He stated:

The word “occupant” is defined by reference to various physical activities or processes.  An “occupant” is a person who is driving an automobile, being carried in or upon an automobile, entering or getting onto an automobile or alighting from an automobile.  The plain meaning of the words used, it seems to me, suggests an intention to draw the line between an occupant and a non-occupant at the point that an individual, who is not driving, can no longer be said to be either entering or getting on to an automobile or, alternatively, alighting from an automobile…

[22]    However, the definition of “occupant” in the Regulation, and the definition in the policies involved in the other cases I have cited above, do in fact refer to the activity of driving, or getting in or out of a vehicle.  On that basis, I do not see a reason for departing from the approach in Kyriazis and the other cases I have cited above.

[23]    Ms. Schuk was not operating or riding in the vehicle, entering into it, nor alighting from it at the time of the accident.  Although the purpose of pulling over and getting out the vehicle was to put chains on it, the parties are in accord that Ms. Schuk was not actually working on the vehicle at the time of the collision.  Therefore none of the criteria for an occupant contained in the definition are met and she was not an occupant.

[24]    Pedestrian is not defined.  However, that was also so in most of the cases I cited above at para. 18.  The approach taken in those cases is that for the purposes of the scheme of automobile insurance, a victim of a car accident is either an occupant or a pedestrian; in other words if the victim does not fall within the definition of a passenger, then she is an occupant.  That appears to me to be the case with the legislation and regulation in issue in the case at bar.  Accordingly Ms. Schuk was a pedestrian at the time of the accident.

[25]    Ms. Shuk was therefore an insured for the purpose of no-fault benefits under both MPIC and ICBC coverage.

ICBC Medical / Rehabilitation No-Fault Benefits and Travel Expenses

When an ICBC “insured” is injured and receives medical or rehabilitation expenses from the Corporation is the insured entitled to payment for travel to and from the medical appointments?
Reasons for judgment from the Provincial Court of BC (Small Claims Court) were recently brought to my attention dealing with this issue and in this case (Jones v. ICBC) Judge Auxier held that mileage for travel is indeed recoverable from ICBC under the no-fault benefit scheme.
ICBC’s obligation to pay for medical or rehabilitation benefits to their insured’s is set out in s. 88 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act Regulation which states as follows:

88 (1)  Where an insured is injured in an accident for which benefits are provided under this Part, the corporation shall, subject to subsections (5) and (6), pay as benefits all reasonable expenses incurred by the insured as a result of the injury for necessary medical, surgical, dental, hospital, ambulance or professional nursing services, or for necessary physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, occupational therapy or speech therapy or for prosthesis or orthosis.

(1.1)  Repealed. [B.C. Reg. 383/89, s. 14.]

(2)  Where, in the opinion of the corporation’s medical adviser, provision of any one or more of the following is likely to promote the rehabilitation of an insured who is injured in an accident for which benefits are provided under this Part, the corporation may provide any one or more of the following:

(a) funds to the insured once during the lifetime of the insured for the acquisition by the insured of one motor vehicle equipped as necessary and appropriate to its use or operation by the insured, the choice of make or model of vehicle to be in the sole discretion of the corporation;

(b) funds to the insured once during the lifetime of the insured for alterations to the insured’s residence that are necessary to make the residence accessible to and usable by the insured, the style and cost of the alterations to be in the sole discretion of the corporation and the alterations to be limited to necessary ramps, a necessary lift, necessary bathroom alterations and, where the insured is a homemaker or a person who lives alone, necessary kitchen alterations

(c) reimbursement to the insured for the costs of attendant care, other than care provided by a member of the insured’s family, where the insured has returned to and is residing in the community but is not capable of performing some or all of the tasks necessary to sustain an independent lifestyle, the amount of the reimbursement to be limited to the lesser of

(i)  the monthly cost of a group residence, including a long term care facility, that would be appropriate to the care needs of the insured as determined by the rehabilitation team, and

(ii)  the monthly cost of attendant care required by the insured as a result of injuries from the motor vehicle accident, the level and type of which will be determined by the rehabilitation team using the same standards and criteria applied under the Long Term Care Program of the Continuing Care Division, Ministry of Health, Province of British Columbia;

(d) reimbursement to the insured for costs incurred from time to time by the insured for the purchase and reasonable repair, adjustment or replacement of one or more of the following items:

(i)  a wheelchair;

(ii)  a medically prescribed bed for other than hospital use;

(iii)  bowel and bladder equipment;

(iv)  aids for communication, dressing, eating, grooming and hygiene;

(v)  transfer equipment;

(vi)  a ventilator;

(e) funds to the insured for vocational or other training that

(i)  is consistent with the insured’s pre-injury occupation and his post-injury skills and abilities, and

(ii)  may return the insured as nearly as practicable to his pre-injury status or improve the post-injury earning capacity and level of independence of the insured;

(f) funds for any other costs the corporation in its sole discretion agrees to pay.

(3)  Before incurring an expense or obligation under subsection (2) for which the insured intends to request payment by the corporation, the insured shall obtain written approval from the corporation and the corporation may, before giving its approval, require the insured to submit such information as it considers necessary to assist it in making a decision.

(4)  The corporation is not liable to insure, repair, replace or maintain a motor vehicle acquired by an insured under subsection (2) (a) except in the course of an approved repair resulting from a subsequent claim for insured loss or damage to the vehicle.

(5)  The amount by which the liability of the corporation under this section is limited is the amount set out in section 3 of Schedule 3.

(6)  The corporation is not liable for any expenses paid or payable to or recoverable by the insured under a medical, surgical, dental or hospital plan or law, or paid or payable by another insurer.

(7)  The maximum amount payable by the corporation under this section for medical, surgical, dental, nursing or physical therapy services or for chiropractic treatment, occupational therapy or speech therapy listed in the payment schedules established by the Medical Services Commission under the Medicare Protection Act is the amount listed in the payment schedules for that service, treatment or therapy.

(8)  The corporation is not liable to pay for more than 12 physical therapy treatments for an insured for each accident unless, before any additional treatment is given, the corporation’s medical advisor or the insured’s medical practitioner certifies to the corporation in writing that, in his opinion, the treatment is necessary for the insured.

This section does not specifically address whether ICBC needs to pay for travel expenses.   In Jones v. ICBC (reasons for judgement were delivered on June 13 from the Kamloops Registry) the Plaintiff sued ICBC for a variety of matters including payment of travel expenses to and from medical appointments under Part 7 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.

The Honourable Judge Auxier sided with the Plaintiff on this issue and concluded that ICBC does indeed need to pay for travel expenses under their Part 7 obligations.  Specifically, at paragraph 19 of the decision, the Judge held that “Ms. Jones has prepared a list of her visits to the doctor in Kamloops and to the physiotherapist in Kamloops.  The total is seven trips.  I find that she is entitled to mileage for that travel – each round trip being 372 km.

While the judgment does not specifically state the quantum that was awarded for this damage, a review of the Plaintiff’s Notice of Claim reveals that the mileage was assessed at $0.47 per kilometer of travel.  This is a great precedent directly addressing this issue and I would like to congratulate the self-represented Plaintiff for her success.

More Snow in BC….More Advice in dealing with ICBC

Its now mid March and like many others I welcome Spring coming and coming fast but its snowing again in Victoria, BC.
With yet another snowfall I thought I’d repost a previous blog entry dealing with single vehicle weather related collisions and ICBC claims. 
Snow in BC has two reliable results 1. Car Accidents, 2. Phone call to BC personal injury lawyers about those car accidents. The second is particularly true for Victoria personal injury and ICBC claims lawyers because of the local populations relative inexperience dealing with winter driving conditions.
In anticipation of the almost certain phone calls I will receive this week as a Victoria ICBC claims lawyer I write this post.
If you are the driver involved in a single vehicle accident in British Columbia, and you lost control due to the weather, all you can likely claim from ICBC are Part 7 Benefits (also referred to as no fault benefits). There is (except in some unusually peculiar situations such as an ICBC insured driver contributing to the road hazards) in all likelihood no claim from ICBC for pain and suffering (non-pecuniary damages) in these circumstances. A person’s right to claim pain and suffering and other “tort” damages only arises if someone else is at fault for your injuries. In these single vehicle accidents you usually only have yourself or the weather to blame, and last time I checked you can’t sue mother nature.
If someone else contributed to the accident (perhaps the road maintenance company for failing to act in a timely fashion or perhaps a mechanic for failing to bring your vehicle up to snuff last time you had it inspected) you will have to make a claim against them. Chances are they are not insured through ICBC for such claims and instead you will have to go against their policy of private insurance.
Now, if you are a passenger in a single vehicle, weather related accident, you may very well have a claim for pain and suffering. This claim would be against your driver (except perhaps in the unusual circumstances mentioned above). If your driver did not operate the vehicle safely in all the circumstances (for example driving too fast for the known or anticipated poor road conditions) and this caused or contributed to the collision then you have a tort claim. Assuming the driver is ICBC insured then you have the right to apply for both no-fault benefits from your own insurance and make a tort claim against the driver that will be covered through his third party liability ICBC insurance.
If you are advancing a tort claim against a driver be weary of the defence of “inevitable accident”. ICBC defends claims. One of the best defences to a weather related accident is that it was “inevitable”. What this means is that the driver, operating safely, could not have avoided losing control of his vehicle. If this can be proven than the tort claim can be defeated.
People naturally don’t want to get those known to them in trouble and it is all too common that when reporting such a claim to ICBC passengers too readily agree to how unexpected the accident was and how the driver was operating the vehicle very carefully. If this is true that’s fine. My words of caution are as follows: If the driver was not safe (I’m not talking about driving like a maniac here, I’m talking about driving less than carefully for the winter driving conditions) and you give ICBC the alternate impression with a view towards helping the driver out, the result may be severely damaging your ability to bring a tort claim.
Tell the truth and know what’s at stake when doing so. If ICBC gets the false impression that the accident was inevitable you will have a much harder time advancing or settling your ICBC tort claim.
The bottom line is this: If an accident truly is inevitable and there is no tort claim so be it, but, don’t lead ICBC to this conclusion if it isn’t true. Doing so will hurt your claim for pain and suffering
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Botox Injections for Rehabilitation and ICBC No-Fault Benefits

You are insured with ICBC and are injured in a BC Car Accident.  You experience chronic pain and your doctor tells you that you will likely benefit from Botox Injections to aid in your rehabilitation.  Botox treatment is expensive, so you apply to ICBC to have this covered under your No-Fault Benefits (sometimes referred to as Part 7 benefits).  ICBC tells you, “sorry, Botox treatment for injury is not covered under Part 7.” Are they right?  Wrong.
Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court ordering that ICBC cover the expenses associated with a Plaintiff receiving Botox treatment.
The Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 BC car crash.  The Plaintiff applied for and received previous funding for various treatments of injuries from ICBC.  The Plaintiff then saw a rehabilitation specialist who recommended Botox injections.  The cost of these was expected to be $3,500.  ICBC, without a contrary medical opinion as to the reasonableness of this treatment, failed to fund it and took the position that this expense did not have to be covered.
Section 88 (1) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation deals with ICBC’s no-fault medical and rehabilitation benefits and requires that ICBC cover all reasonable expenses incurred by the insured as a result of the injury for necessary services, therapy or treatment as set out in the Regulation.
Justice Macaulay, in very well thought out reasons for judgment, ordered that ICBC had to pay for the Botox injections in the circumstances of this case.  The key reasoning in the judgment can be found at paragraphs 33 – 40 which I will publish as soon as the judgement is released on the BC Court’s website.
This case is also very interesting to me from a procedural point of view.  The Plaintiff brought this application by way of summary trial under Rule 18-A.  The Plaintiff relied on his affidavit and a medico-legal report.  ICBC did not have the opportunity to cross examine the Plaintiff or the treating doctor and typically litigants are entitled to do so.  ICBC took the position that this application should not be heard until they had the chance to cross-examine.
Mr. Justice Macaulay disagreed with ICBC and allowed the application to proceed.  He ruled that “There is nothing to be gained by directing cross examination of either the doctor or the Plaintiff.  The doctor makes it clear that she recommends this treatment as one of several options because the plaintiff’s lower back problems have been intractable.  It is primarily a legal issue whether that is sufficient to trigger an obligation on ICBC under s. 88(1).  There is also no reason to expect that the cross examination of the plaintiff will result in any alteration of the evidence…cross examination will not be ordered [in Rule 18A summary trials] absent some likelihood that the procedure will produce evidence in support of the other side…I am satisfied that the proposed cross-examination of the plaintiff and his doctor are speculative and not likely to produce evidence in support of ICBC.

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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