In British Columbia the norm has long been that a collision victim could file a lawsuit against ICBC to preserve the right to future accident related medical/rehab benefits even if no past benefits were outstanding. The reason was simple, contractually ICBC Part 7 benefits could be payable over many years. However, if enough time passed without the need to access these benefits, the limitation period could expire thus thwarting the ability to claim future benefits if needed. A simple court filing could prevent this from occurring. The BC Supreme Court was reluctant to dismiss such claims understanding their role in preserving future benefits claims.
The BC Government has now diverted many ICBC disputes away from the courts and into a provincially created body known as the Civil Resolution Tribunal. In the first CRT decision I’m aware of addressing this practice the CRT ruled that such claims will not be accepted and will be dismissed.
In the recent case (Mu v. ICBC) the Applicant filed a ‘placeholder’ lawsuit to preserve her right to seek future ICBC benefits after being involved in a collision. No past benefits were outstanding. As ICBC looked to move the dispute forward the Applicant asked the CRT to “pause” the proceeding until such time as a dispute arose to future benefits. The CRT was not prepared to do so and ruled that under the new system placeholder claims to preserve limitation rights will not be allowed. In reaching this decision CRT Vice Chair Andrea Ritchie provided the following reasons: