Tag: Part 7 benefits

More on the Steep Consequences of Part 7 Benefits Deductions in Tort Trials

As previously discussed, if you are insured with ICBC and fail to pursue your own Part 7 benefits a Defendant can reduce their liability by the amount of the benefits you should have pursued.  This can result in a very harsh damages deduction.  This was again illustrated in reasons for judgement released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry.
In last week’s case (Thomas v. Thompson) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 collision.  The case went to trial in 2010 and the Plaintiff was awarded damages for various losses including the cost of future medical care.  One of the future care items was the cost of Lyrica.   The parties were invited to make further submissions regarding the future costs of this medication.
The Court accepted that the present day value of the Plaintiff’s future need for Lyrica totalled $147,939.   This entire award was then deducted because the Plaintiff could have pursued payment for this directly under his no-fault benefits.  In allowing this six figure damage reduction Mr. Justice Brooke provided the following reasons:







[4] The defendants say that rather than ordering the payment to the plaintiff of the present value of Lyrica as a cost of future care, the court must apply the provisions of s. 83(5) of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act. This section in its entirety says this:

83

(a) within the definition of section 1.1, or

(b) that are similar to those within the definition of section 1.1, provided under vehicle insurance wherever issued and in effect,

but does not include a payment made pursuant to third party liability insurance coverage.

(2) A person who has a claim for damages and who receives or 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.

(3) Nothing in this section precludes the insurer from demanding from the person referred to in subsection (2), as a condition precedent to payment, a release to the extent of the payment.

(4) In an action in respect of bodily injury or death caused by a vehicle or the use or operation of a vehicle, the amount of benefits paid, or to which the person referred to in subsection (2) is or would have been entitled, must not be referred to or disclosed to the court or jury until the court has assessed the award of damages.

(5) After assessing the award of damages under subsection (4), the amount of benefits referred to in that subsection must be disclosed to the court, and taken into account, or, if the amount of benefits has not been ascertained, the court must estimate it and take the estimate into account, and the person referred to in subsection (2) is entitled to enter judgment for the balance only.

[5] I am satisfied that the Part 7 benefits available to the plaintiff exceeded the present value of those benefits and judgment may not be entered for them.









For more information on the complexities of part 7 benefits and tort damage assessments you can click here to read my article “the two hats of ICBC“.

Part 7 Benefits Deductions and the "Two Hats" of ICBC


When a Plaintiff is awarded damages following a negligence claim from a BC motor vehicle collision, a Defendant can reduce the amount of damages they have to pay by the amount of no-fault benefits a Plaintiff can claim under their own policy of insurance from ICBC.  As recently discussed, this can result in a very harsh reduction.
The purpose for this deduction is so an accident victim doesn’t ‘double dip’.  That is, a person should not be paid twice for the same accident related expenses.  The reality, however, is that in most BC personal injury trials both the Plaintiff and Defendant are insured by ICBC.  This leads to a built-in conflict of interest.  At trial defence counsel appointed by ICBC will often argue that a Plaintiff’s claimed future medical care needs are not reasonable.  If the Plaintiff is awarded damages for future care the same counsel will then often argue that the award should be reduced as ICBC will pay for these damages under the Plaintiff’s own policy of insurance.
It is difficult to reconcile these two positions.  In 2009 the BC Court of Appeal found that trial judges can consider defence counsel’s trial submissions as a reflection of ICBC’s views with respect to the likelihood of payment of future insurance benefits.  Further reasons for judgement were recently brought to my attention demonstrating this practical approach by trial judges in face of ICBC’s arguments.
In today’s case (Van Den Hemel v. Kugathasan) the Plaintiff was injured in two seperate collisions.   At trial the Plaintiff was awarded damages including $8,000 for cost of future medical care.  The Defendants then argued that all of this should be deducted as ICBC would likely pay these expenses under the Plaintiff’s policy of insurance.
Mr. Justice Stewart disagreed with this submission and in doing so acknowledged the reality that ICBC’s views were likely expressed through counsel at trial and the Court would be “naive” to ignore these.  Mr. Justice Stewart reduced the award by only $100 and in doing so provided the following helpful reasons:
[9]  … whether the kinds of treatment at the cost accepted in my judgement would be paid in their entirety by ICBC is problematic, and the position taken in the tort case by the defendants, – effectively ICBC – with respect to the nature, extent, and source of the plaintiff’s problems.  ICBC is stuck with having to wear two hats – defend the tort action versus administer Part 7 – but I would be naive if I ignored the significance of the position taken in the trial simply because ICBC has no choice but to wear two hats.  The need to be realistic in assessing the ‘uncertainties’ lies at the heart of what the Court of Appeal had to say in Schmitt v. Thomas and in Boota v. Dhaliwal.
As of today’s date Mr. Justice Stewart’s recent judgement remains unpublished but I would be happy to share a copy with anyone who contacts me and requests one.

BC Supreme Court Finds Botox Covered Under ICBC's Part 7 Benefits


It is not uncommon for physicians to occasionally prescribe Botox Injections to treat symptoms of pain following motor vehicle collisions.  The Botox itself is not covered by the BC Medical Service Plan and people often turn to ICBC for funding of this expense.  Two recent decisions have addressed whether ICBC is obliged to fund Botox therapy when prescribed by a physician.
In 2008 Mr. Justice Macaulay provided reasons for judgement (Tiessen v. ICBC) finding that Botox is indeed a covered benefit under ICBC’s No-Fault Plan. The Court provided the following reasons:

[]           Counsel for ICBC seeks to impose too high a standard for proving that a recommended treatment is necessary.  I am satisfied that the treatment is necessary in the sense that the plaintiff needs short and long term pain relief for his lower back.  While it is impossible to predict that this particular treatment will succeed, it is nonetheless, on the evidence before me, a necessary physical treatment within the meaning of the section.

[]           There is no evidence to suggest that the proposed cost of the staged treatment is unreasonable.  The fact that the particular treatment is not covered by MSP does not establish that the cost is unreasonable.

[]           I am persuaded that the plaintiff is entitled to a declaration that he is an insured person to be benefited pursuant to Part 7 of the Regulations and a further declaration that he is entitled to receive medical rehabilitative benefits pursuant to the contract of insurance with the defendant under Policy Number 639 DER for the cost of Botox injections as recommended by Dr. Quartly.

Further reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, confirming that Botox is a benefit covered under Part 7.
In today’s case (Plensky v. Di Biase) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2004 motor vehicle collision.  A jury awarded the Plaintiff damages including just over $60,000 for the cost of her future medical care.   The court was then asked to reduce the award to take into account the future expenses that were covered directly by the Plaintiff’s Part 7 Benefits to avoid “double recovery”  (You can click here to read more about this topic).  Madam Justice Ross ultimately made a modest deduction to the Jury’s award.  Part of the deduction reflected the cost of future Botox injections which the Court accepted was a responsibility of ICBC’s under the Plaintiff’s Part 7 Benefits.
Today’s case coupled with Mr. Justice Macaulay’s 2008 decision make it clear that Botox can be covered under people’s own policies of ICBC Insurance.

A Suggested Change at ICBC To Benefit British Columbians


Whether you are a plaintiff lawyer, a defence lawyer, an adjuster or someone insured with ICBC I think we can all agree that there is one ICBC practice that could change to better serve British Columbians.  I’m talking about the practice of assigning the same adjuster to deal with Tort and No-Fault Benefit claims.
As I’ve previously discussed, ICBC usually fulfills two roles in the context of injury claims.  The first is that they insure people for “no-fault” benefits.  If you are insured, whether or not you are at fault for a collision ICBC provides some basic coverage for medical/rehabilitation expenses and a modest wage loss benefit in the event of total disability.  If you are seeking coverage ICBC assigns an adjuster to process your claim no-fault benefits.
At the same time ICBC usually provides coverage to the at fault party for any claims made against them.  When a faultless party is injured and wishes to be compensated for the full extent of their damages they make a tort claim.  ICBC assigns an adjuster to process these tort claims.  The difficulty, however, is that ICBC typically assigns the same adjuster to deal with the faultless parties claims for no-fault benefits and to process the tort claim made against the at fault party.
As a business decision ICBC’s policy makes sense.  Why assign two people to look after various claims being advanced as a result of a single event?  It is more cost effective to get one adjuster to learn about the crash, the parties involved, the various injuries and the claims being advanced.  As a practical matter, however, one person cannot fulfill both these roles in a completely impartial way.
In reality adjusters processing a no-fault benefits claim have a very different duty compared to an adjuster processing a tort claim.  In a no-fault benefits claim the adjuster owes a duty to the injured party to provide them with their insurance benefits.  If therapies are required these should be covered.  If disability occurs wage loss benefits should be provided.
In tort claims, however, the adjuster owes a duty to the at fault party.  If claims are being advanced the at fault party will want those settled for as little as possible as the funds are paid from their coverage.  It is difficult to imagine how one adjuster can fulfill these competing duties fairly and impartially.  The conflicting duties create an inherent conflict of interest.  (You can click here to read an article providing a real world example of how this conflict can play out to harm the interests of a person injured through no fault of their own).
After reading this you may be asking yourself whether ICBC’s practice is lawful.  Unfortunately, the answer is yes.  This practice has been brought before the Courts and is tolerated.
However, just because a practice is accepted does not make it right.  Since the Courts are not able to correct this practice the ability to change is in the hands of ICBC.
The solution is simple.  ICBC can assign separate adjusters to deal with tort and no-fault claims.  Once done ICBC can set up internal ‘walls’ to prevent the adjusters from accessing each others files.  This would add more fairness to the application process for no-fault benefits.  This would also help ensure that information shared by a party with their insurer to receive medical treatment is not automatically disclosed to the agent of the person responsible for causing the injuries.  This is a proposed change, I hope, we could all agree on.
As always, feedback is welcome on this forum and I’d appreciate views from others about this topic, particularly views from people who feel these proposed changes would not be beneficial.

The Inability to Afford Therapy and the Duty to Mitigate Damages


As I’ve recently written, a Plaintiff has a duty to ‘mitigate‘ their losses after being injured otherwise the damages they are entitled to can be reduced.
The most common example of the ‘failure to mitigate’ defence comes up in personal injury claims where defence lawyers argue that a Plaintiff would have recovered more quickly and more completely had they followed through with all of the suggestions of their medical practitioners.  If evidence supporting such an argument is accepted then the Plaintiff’s award can be reduced.
What if a Plaintiff can’t afford to purchase all the therapies/medications recommended by their physicians?  Can their damage award be reduced in these circumstances?  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dealing with this issue.
In this week’s case (Trites v. Penner) the Plaintiff, an apprentice plumber, was injured in a forceful rear end collision in 2005.  Fault for the crash was admitted by the rear motorist.  The trial focused on the value of the Plaintiff’s claim.
The Plaintiff suffered various soft tissue injuries.  He followed a course of therapy in the months that followed and enjoyed some improvement in his symptoms.  During his recovery ICBC (the Plaintiff’s insurer for ‘no fault’ benefits) discontinued “funding for (the Plaintiff’s) efforts at rehabilitation.”
At trial the Defence lawyer argued that the Plaintiff should have followed through with these therapies in any event and that his damages should be reduced for failure to mitigate.   Madam Justice Ker disagreed and took the Plaintiff’s inability to pay for his therapies into consideration.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[209] Financial circumstances are certainly one factor to consider in the overall reasonableness assessment of whether a plaintiff has failed to mitigate their losses.  What is reasonable will depend on all the surrounding circumstances.  One significant factor in this case however, is that as Mr. Trites was on his upward climb to recovery, ICBC determined that it would discontinue funding his efforts at rehabilitation.  As a consequence, Mr. Trites was left to fund his continued rehabilitation on his own.  Instrumental to continuing his recovery and functioning was not only attendance at the gym but other treatment modalities including massage therapy and chiropractic treatments and taking prescription medication.  All of these items had significant benefits to Mr. Trites but they also carried with them significant costs.  In the first half of 2007, Mr. Trites was unable to fund all these aspects of treatment and chose the prescription medication as it was essential to his pain management on a daily basis.

[210] I find that in these circumstances, Mr. Trites’ decision not to continue with a gym pass on a monthly basis for the first six months of 2007 was not unreasonable.  This is not a case where the plaintiff has refused to take recommended treatment.  Rather Mr. Trites was engaged in all aspects of the recommended treatments and ICBC was, until December 2006, paying for them.  Thereafter ICBC unilaterally discontinued paying for these treatments, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Trites was not yet fully recovered.  I cannot find that Mr. Trites acted unreasonably in determining how best to try and pay for all the treatment modalities that had been working for him in assisting his rehabilitation but were no longer going to be paid for by ICBC and were beyond his limited means at the time.  As Smith J. noted in O’Rourke v. Claire, [1997] B.C.J. No. 630 (S.C.) at para. 42 “it does not lie in the mouth of the tortfeasor to say that a plaintiff in such circumstances has failed to mitigate by failing to arrange and pay for his own rehabilitative treatment.”

[211] Accordingly, I find that the defence has not discharged its burden of establishing that Mr. Trites failed to mitigate his losses in this case.

You may be wondering if ICBC is allowed to, on the one hand deny a Plaintiff rehabilitation benefits, and on the other have the Defendant’s lawyer argue at trial that the Plaintiff should have pursued these benefits and therefor reduce the Plaintiff’s award.  The answer is yes and you can click here to read a previous article discussing this area of law, and here for the latest from the BC Court of Appeal on this topic.
Today’s case is also worth reviewing for the Court’s discussion of non-pecuniary damages and diminished earning capacity.
The Court accepted that the Plaintiff suffered moderate soft tissue injuries to his neck and back and these had a ‘guarded’ prognosis for full recovery.   $75,000 was awarded for his non-pecuniary damages and the Court’s reasons addressing this can be found at paragraphs 188-198.
The Plaintiff was also awarded $250,000 for diminished earning capacity.  He was an apprentice plumber and, despite his injuries, was able to continue to work in this trade in the years that followed the collision.  However he struggled in his profession and there was evidence he may have to retrain.  The court’s lengthy discussion addressing his diminished earning capacity can be found at paragraphs 213-239.

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.

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.

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
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