Significant recent changes to the way compensation is paid to personal injury victims across BC have been making national news headlines.
Two major and fundamental shifts in government guidelines for the handling of personal injury compensation give ICBC the power to decide the amount of compensation victims receive, whilst also leaving them to pay for their own costs incurred to provide proof of injury, fault and loss.
Below is an open letter, sent to all of our clients, which explains these shocking new changes to ICBC compensation policy in more detail.
I am sending this letter to all of my existing clients to advise of significant changes to the landscape proposed by the NDP government and our Attorney General (and Minister Responsible for ICBC) David Eby.
The Supreme Court Civil Rules in their current form, provide that an injured party who is successful in their litigation (either by settlement) or by achieving a trial judgment, is entitled to their reasonably and necessarily incurred disbursements.
Disbursements are the amount outlaid by us on your behalf for things like filing your court action, obtaining medical and other expert reports, etc.
This government has announced that the majority of existing court cases, will now be dealt with differently in that you will have to bear the cost of disbursements for experts that exceed 5% of the value of the claim and / or more than $3000 per expert report. Considering that the average personal injury claim in the province is less than $100,000. In most of these cases the plaintiff will obtain a report from the treating family physician (usually $2500), an IME physician (usually $4000 to $6000) and potentially an economist to provide multipliers or wage loss report (approximately $2000).
In this example, the plaintiff will now have to pay the cost for any expert expense that is over 5% of the value of the claim (they will owe roughly $5000 if the settlement is $100,000 and this amount increases if they settle for a lower amount).
The calculus is even worse if the plaintiff is found partially at fault for the accident. The alternative is that we, as plaintiff lawyers, do not seek expert reports or retain less qualified experts who are willing to work under the new rates – in either event the plaintiff’s claim is minimized and ICBC has no restrictions in the amount they can spend on experts in defending the claim.
In my view this draconian and retroactive variation in the longstanding Supreme Court Civil Rules will operate to financially wound already injured plaintiffs and will financially cripple most plaintiffs who can ill-afford to spend their own money to advance their cases.
Our government has made this significant change having never campaigned on it, and has done so without consultation with the legal profession or Rules Committee.
It is unfair to particularly vulnerable people – those injured by the fault of other careless or reckless drivers. It is fundamentally wrong – headed and further skews the playing field in favour of ICBC.
The government has further announced No-Fault insurance which in a nutshell will strip British Columbians’ rights to sue at-fault drivers for their injuries. This will effectively transform ICBC into WCB where ICBC will be granted virtually limitless power to unilaterally decide what injured British Columbians are entitled to without an opportunity for a Court to decide and without the opportunity to hire a lawyer to advance your interests. This is more ICBC not less, and will result in injured people being further victimized.
If these unilateral changes to the law concern you, please contact the Premier, John Horgan, the Attorney General (and Minster Responsible for ICBC) and our local MLA, Dan Ashton, at the contact information below.
I believe if there is a groundswell of vocal opposition to these damaging changes, this government may reconsider this terrible change of position.
Office of the Attorney General
Room 232, Parliament Buildings
PO Box 9044 Stn. Prov Govt
Dan Ashton: Contact
210 – 300 Riverside Drive
Penticton, BC V2A 9C9
Toll Free Phone: 1-866-487-4402
Langford – Juan de Fuca Community Office
122-2806 Jacklin Road,
Victoria, B.C. V9B 5A4