B.C. is catching up to other provinces in putting limits on court costs and pain and suffering awards in vehicle accidents, and a court challenge by lawyers won’t stop them, Attorney General David Eby said Monday.
All accidents that take place after midnight Sunday are subject to a $5,500 cap on pain and suffering awards that fall under a new “minor injury” definition. Injuries determined by a doctor to be minor will be directed to a new independent dispute resolution process to settle claims of $50,000 or less. That change has been challenged in court by the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. as an infringement of people’s right to access to court.
“I understand why they are upset about the changes, but the reality is, we don’t have a choice in terms of ensuring that costs are under control for British Columbians,” Eby said Monday. “The civil resolution tribunal has been tested before and upheld by the courts as an appropriate way for British Columbians to access justice on other issues.”
— Tom Fletcher (@tomfletcherbc) April 1, 2019
The lawyers’ association filed a constitutional challenge Monday, and recruited former NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh to speak on their behalf.
“Fixing ICBC is a priority, but not at the expense of access to justice and the charter rights of British Columbians,” Dosanjh said.
Eby said the alternative to introducing limits on award payouts is increasing ICBC’s basic insurance premiums by up to 40 per cent in the years ahead. A 6.3 per cent increase took effect Monday, about the same as the previous year’s increase as ICBC projected a loss of nearly $1 billion on its operations for 2018-19.
ICBC emphasizes that its overhaul of claims allows more generous payouts for injuries. Also taking effect April 1 is a new benefit of $1,000 for therapy equipment and naturopathic treatments that were previously not covered. More money is also available for treatments under new and existing claims as of April 1, including acupuncture, chiropractic care, psychology, kinesiology, registered massage therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
The lost-income supplement for people off work due to injury is more than doubled to $740 per week, and the allowance for homemaker support for injured people is also almost doubled to $280 per week.