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Tag: Uninsured Motorist Claims

ICBC Uninsured Motorist Claims and the Deductibility of WCB Benefits

If a person is injured by the actions of an uninsured motorist in BC they can seek compensation directly from ICBC under section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.
There are certain limitations to section 20 claims and one of these was that ICBC could deduct Workers Compensation Benefits.  This changed by the new section 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation which came into force on June 1, 2007.  The new regulation changed the definition of an ‘insured claim‘ that ICBC could deduct as follows:

106 (1)  In this section, “insured claim” means any benefit, compensation similar to benefits, right to indemnity or claim to indemnity accruing to a person entitled to benefits, compensation or indemnity or to the personal representative or guardian of the person, and includes a benefit, compensation, right or claim

(a) under the Workers Compensation Act or a similar law or plan of another jurisdiction, unless

(i)  the insured elects not to claim compensation under section 10 (2) of the Workers Compensation Act and the insured is not entitled to compensation under section 10 (5) of that Act, or

(ii)  the Workers Compensation Board pursues its right of subrogation under section 10 (6) of the Workers Compensation Act

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing whether ICBC could deduct WCB benefits paid when a crash occurred prior to June 1, 2007 but the uninsured claim against ICBC was still on-going after the new Regulation came into force.  In short the Court held that the date of the crash itself does not decide the issue, rather the date that the section 20 claim against ICBC is crystallized does.
In this week’s case (Hicks v. Bieberbach Estate) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 collision.  The opposing motorist was operating a stolen vehicle and was killed in the collision.  Motorists in stolen vehicles are deemed to be uninsured motorists by ICBC.  The Plaintiff initially obtained some compensation from WCB.  The Plaintiff then re-elected his route of compensation and brought a tort claim (apparently with WCB’s approval) against the uninsured motorist’s estate.
ICBC took the position that all the funds paid by WCB were non-recoverable as the crash happened prior to June 1, 2007.  Madam Justice Adair disagreed and found that since the CL-42 (the statutory declaration claimiants need to sign to seek section 20 benefits from ICBC) was not signed until after June 1, 2007 the new regulation applied and ICBC could not deduct the WCB payments from their section 20 obligations.  In reaching this decision the Court provided the following reasons:

[44]         A claimant who is injured by an insured driver and who wishes to make an application to ICBC for damages must do so in the prescribed form:  s. 20(2).  The form prescribed is a statutory declaration, where an applicant must verify facts as if under oath or on affirmation.  I do not see anything in s. 20 to suggest that ICBC “may pay” without having fundamental facts relevant to the claimant’s claim verified by solemn declaration,  as prescribed by the legislation.  On the contrary, the clear implication of s. 20(9) is that it is necessary for a claimant to submit a declaration in Form CL-42 before ICBC “may” pay.  The significance of the word “may pay” (rather than “must pay”) is that, even when a claimant has complied with s. 20 and the regulations, ICBC is notobligated to pay:  see Buxton v. Tang, at para. 7.

[45]         In my view, ICBC’s correspondence dated February 7, 2007, indicates that ICBC requires plaintiff’s counsel to comply with the service and default requirements of s. 20 (see in particular ss. 20(5)(b), (6) and (7)), and, more generally, indicates that ICBC expected Roy Hicks to comply with the section and the regulations before any amount would be paid to him.  This is entirely consistent with s. 20(9).  One of the requirements was that Mr. Hicks complete and submit a CL-42.  Unlike s. 24 of the Act, which requires a claimant to give ICBC notice of a claim within 6 months after the accident but does not specify any form in which the notice must be given, s. 20 specifies the form of notice of a claim, but does not fix a deadline…

[52]         In my opinion, in this case and reading s. 20 as a whole, ICBC was not in a position where it at least “may” pay, until Roy Hicks submitted his CL-42 statutory declaration.  That was the final step Mr. Hicks needed to complete (since service of the writ and defence of the claim by ICBC had been addressed in the fall of 2007) as claimant.  Since the CL-42 statutory declaration was submitted in February 2008, s. 106 of the New Regulation applies…

[54]         In summary, the question posed on the special case is:

Does the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia have the legal authority to deduct Workers’ Compensation Board benefits paid to the Plaintiff from any amount to be paid to the Plaintiff for damages, as a result of settlement or judgment in this matter, taking into account Section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231 and regulation 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act Regulations, or the predecessor to these sections which were repealed on June 1, 2007?

My answer is no.  Section 106 of the New Regulation applies in respect of the plaintiff’s claim.

ICBC Claims, Uninsured Motorists, and the Definition of "Highway"

Did you know that if you are injured in BC by a motorist who does not have any insurance at all you can still seek coverage of your tort claim directly from ICBC?  The reason you can do this is because of Section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act which requires ICBC to pay the damages directly when an uninsured motorist negligently injures others.
There are limits to ICBC’s liability under this section, and one such limitation is that the collision has to occur on a ‘highway‘.  If the crash does not occur on a ‘highway‘ then ICBC does not need to pay damages under section 20.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Prince George registry, dealing with exception.
In today’s case (Pierre v. Miller) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision.  The collision took place on Finlay Forest Service Road, a fairly remote road in British Columbia.   The Defendant was not insured and ICBC defended the case directly by the authority given to them under section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.    ICBC’s lawyer brought a motion for a declaration that Finlay Forest Service Road is not a highway.
Mr. Justice Meiklem agreed with ICBC finding that the road was “a forest service road” and therefore not a highway and ordered that ICBC did not have to pay the Plaintiff anything for his injuries under section 20.
In reaching this conclusion the Court gave the following summary of the definition of “Highway” for the purpose of Uninsured Motorist Claims:

[3]             In order for ICBC to be liable to pay a claim under the provisions of the s. 20 of the IMV Act, the claim must arise out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle on a highway in British Columbia.  This follows from the definition of “claimant” and “uninsured motorist” in s. 20 of the IMV Act.  “Highway” is defined in the IMV Act as meaning a highway as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C. 1996. c. 318 (“MVA”).  The MVA definition of highway is:

“highway” includes

(a) every highway within the meaning of the Transportation Act,

(b) every road, street, lane or right of way designed or intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles, and

(c) every private place or passageway to which the public, for the purpose of the parking or servicing of vehicles, has access or is invited,

but does not include an industrial road;

[4]             The MVA also defines “industrial road” as follows:

“industrial road” means industrial road as defined in the Industrial Roads Act, and includes a forest service road as defined in the Forest Act and land designated as a development road under section 8 (1) of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act;

[5]             The definition of an industrial road in the Industrial Roads Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 189 is not applicable in this case but the Forest Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 157 definition of forest service road which is part of the definition of an industrial road in the MVA is in issue.  The Forest Act defines a “forest service road” as follows:

“forest service road” means a road on Crown land that

(a) is declared a forest service road under section 115 (5),

(b) is constructed or maintained by the minister under section 121,

(c) was a forest service road under this definition as it was immediately before the coming into force of this paragraph, or

(d) meets prescribed requirements;

[6]             The motor vehicle accident in this case occurred on a road known and marked as the Finlay Forest Service Road.  The applicant ICBC argues that the Finlay Forest Service Road falls within the Forest Act definition because it is declared to be a forest service road and because it was constructed or maintained by the Minister of Forests.  The respondent plaintiff argues that the Finlay Forest Service Road is a highway by way of public expenditure to which s. 42 of the Transportation Act, S.B.C. 2004, c. 44 applies and also because it is used by the general public for the passage of vehicles.  Alternatively the plaintiff argues that if the Finlay Forest Service Road is a forest service road it does not satisfy the definition under the IMV Act because it is a Community Use Forest Service Road rather than an Industrial Use Forest Service Road, it is not primarily for the transportation of natural resources or machinery materials or personal and it is not maintained by the Ministry of Forests and Range.

[7]             Another statutory provision of interest although not directly helpful in characterizing the Finlay Forest Service Road is s. 56 of the Transportation Act which enables the Lieutenant Governor and Council, with the consent of the Minister of Transportation and Highways and Minister of Forests and Range to order that a forest service road cease to be a forest service road and become an arterial highway or a rural highway.  There is no evidence that this has occurred in this case.

ICBC Uninsured Motorist Claims and the Health Care Costs Recovery Act

Further to my previous posts on the Health Care Costs Recovery Act, I recently had the opportunity to scrutinize the Act’s application to Uninsured Motorist Claims under Section 20 of the BC Insurance (Vehicle) Act.  It was a a bit of a lengthy exercise so I thought I would share my findings for the benefit of anyone else researching this topic.
A representative of the Government familiar with the HCCRA told me that the BC Government’s initial position when the HCCRA came into force was that it applied to BC Car Crash cases where the Defendant is uninsured and in cases where the Defendant is in breach of their insurance.  In my recent experience suing Defendants who were in breach of their insurance the Government required notice about the claim but did not require recovery of health care costs.  (Please note I am not speaking on behalf of the BC Government here, I am simply highlighting my past experiences with this act, so if you are prosecuting such a claim please satisfy yourself whether or not the Act applies).
Where a Defendant is Uninsured at the time of the crash (as opposed to in breach of their insurance) the HCCRA appears to apply at first glance.
Section 24 of the Health Care Costs Recovery Act holds in part that:

(1) Subject to this section, this Act applies in relation to any personal injury suffered by a beneficiary, whether before or after this subsection comes into force….

(3) This Act does not apply in relation to health care services that are provided or are to be provided to a beneficiary in relation to

(a) personal injury or death arising out of a wrongdoer’s use or operation of a motor vehicle if the wrongdoer has, when the injury is caused, coverage under the plan, as those terms are defined in the Insurance (Vehicle) Act,

So on strict reading the HCCRA appears to apply to BC Car Crash Cases where a Defendant motorist is uninsured because in these circumstances the “wrongdoer” does not have “coverage under the plan“.  If a Plaintiff sues a Defendant in these circumstances the Government’s claim arguably should be advanced.  Practically speaking, however, Plaintiff’s rarely recover anything from Uninsured Defendants and instead take advantage of the Benefit available under section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.

Specifically, Section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act permits people injured by Uninsured Motorists in BC to apply to ICBC for ‘payment of damages to which he or she claims to be entitled to’.
If you dig a little deeper ICBC appears to be under no obligation to pay HCCRA damages in a settlement or judgement in Section 20 Claims because of the Deductions set out in section 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation which holds that “No amount shall be paid by (ICBC) under section 20…of the Act in respect of that part of a claim that is paid or payable as an insured claim“.
For the purpose of s. 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation “insured claim” means “any benefit, compensation similar to benefits, right to indemnity or claim to indemnity accruing to a person entitled to benefits, compensation or indemnity...”
It is hard to imagine a successful argument holding that the right to Government Paid Health Care under MSP is not a ‘benefit‘ as used in the above definition of ‘insured claim‘.  So, in summary, while the Health Care Costs Recovery Act appears to be triggered in tort claims against Uninsured Motorists, ICBC appears to not have to pay any portion of such a claim when a Plaintiff applies for benefits to ICBC under s. 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act because of the deduction they are entitled to under s. 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation.  Clear as mud folks?