What ICBC And The Government Don’t Want You To Know About Their Injury Caps Plan
I am sure you have all heard in the media that ICBC and the NDP have teamed up to make a plan to cap compensation for pain and suffering for innocent victims who are injured in car accidents at a maximum of $5,500. What you may not have heard is that they also intend to prevent victims from accessing independent courts if they don’t agree with ICBC’s assessment of their injuries. They are rushing legislation through the Legislature this week to avoid proper consultation and debate on their legislation. ICBC and the Government have repeatedly said that they are just capping “minor injuries”, but what they aren’t telling you is that they have defined “minor injury” in Bill 20 as:
a physical or mental injury whether or not chronic, that includes an abrasion, contusion, laceration, sprain or strain, pain syndrome, a psychological or psychiatric condition or any other injury they wish to later include in that definition by regulation.
ICBC and the Government think they should define what is a minor injury rather than your doctor. In the proposed legislation they are even restricting the ability for referrals to medical professionals to obtain an opinion with respect to the diagnosis of any injury, not just a “minor injury”. They also have said in the legislation they will decide what medical professionals you are allowed to be referred to for treatment, not your doctor.
ICBC and the Government’s say in Bill 20 that if you still have an impairment from your injury more than 12 months after the accident it will not be considered a minor injury. That seems reasonable doesn’t it? But you must read on to get to what they are really saying. A few lines later they contradict that statement by saying your injury will still be categorized as a “minor injury” if you have a symptom or condition associated with your injury that doesn’t resolve with the 12 months. With this definition, it is hard to see what wouldn’t be a “minor injury”.
I think most fair-minded people would think that a chronic injury, or a pain syndrome, or a psychiatric condition, is not minor, and that the rest of the injuries they list aren’t minor either if you are still impaired by them 12 months after the accident. ICBC and the Government think otherwise.
I have heard many people say, “it will not affect me because I will never be in a car accident”. I suspect the 330,000 British Columbians who are in car accidents every year probably thought the same thing. While the government and ICBC would like the public to believe that it is lawyers or innocent victims injured in car accidents who are driving up the cost of claims, the reality is independent legally trained judges, and juries made up of people from the community including you, actually decide what these claims are worth. Not lawyers, not the victims. It is the mismanagement of ICBC and their refusal to provide proper treatment and care and fair compensation to people, and distracted driving, that is primarily responsible for driving up the cost of claims. Why not make ICBC treat people fairly in how they handle claims, and punish the bad drivers who cause accidents by increasing their deductibles or charging them an extra premium rather than punishing the innocent victims who are hurt as a result of their careless driving?
Heaven forbid if you or anyone you ever cared about are in an accident under ICBC’s new legislation. They will be deciding whether you have a minor injury and they will be deciding who you can see for referrals and they will tell you that your claim is worth a maximum of $5500 if you fit within the broad definition they have invented. The government and ICBC have also decided that the government will create the tribunal that will hear your claim and they will be deciding who the judge will be that will decide your claim. What do you think your chances are of getting treated fairly under a system like this?
I encourage you to contact your MLA and Attorney General David Eby and Premier John Horgan who are responsible for this plan, by phone or email, and let them know your thoughts on this draconian legislation. I encourage you not to take their expensive and misleading TV, Internet and radio commercials as an accurate representation of what they are really up to. Read the legislation for yourself and you will see that their advertising spin is far from the truth.
HERE is the link to the list of MLAs with their contact information.
See what the Psychological Association of British Columbia thinks about ICBC and the government’s attempt to categorize psychiatric and psychological conditions as a “minor injury”:
HERE is a link to the RoadBC Website where you will get the truth about ICBC’s plan, and where you can sign an online petition opposing it.
This article is written by Lee Turner, a Partner at Doak Shirreff. If you have any questions, you can reach Lee by email or on his direct line- 250-979-2531.