Starting April 1st, 2019, ICBC will put a cap of $5,500 for pain and suffering on so-called minor injury claims in automobile accidents, as part of a series of reforms by the NDP government to fix the deficit incurred by ICBC.
The government passed legislation to set the insurance caps earlier this year in an attempt to save more than $1 billion annually from ICBC, which has been bleeding money. This year, ICBC is expected to post a staggering loss of $1.3 billion for the current fiscal year.
ICBC has never accounted for this shortfall but a large part of the reason why ICBC is in trouble is because of rising crash costs, mismanagement by ICBC executives, and the government taking money from the insurer to fund other projects.
Where did this money go? And what is being done to fundamentally fix ICBC? These questions have not been answered – and most likely won’t be by the government. As the public, we have the right to know where this money went and what is being done to correct the balance sheet. Putting a cap on pain and suffering might save some money at the expense of British Columbians but it doesn’t address the real, deeper issues here.
What Are Considered Minor Injuries?
Just as troubling as the deficit, ICBC doesn’t have any clear, legal definition of what is considered minor injuries, which account for 60 percent of injury claims. This is akin to ICBC trying to put the proverbial square peg into a round hole. By trying to simplify a complex system with hard drawn lines when we know injuries are anything but simple is completely wrong and something only bureaucrats far removed from the actual situation would implement.
If you’ve ever been injured in a car accident, you know injuries are complex and it’s not always possible to know instantaneously how long it will take to heal or even what type of rehabilitation is necessary. When looking at an injury – any injury – it’s not as simple as diagnosing and then giving out some money to cover it. Injuries need to be monitored and treatments need to be adjusted as new symptoms occur and conditions evolve over time.
As it stands now, unfortunately, if your claim falls under ICBC’s minor injuries and you do not agree with their assessment, you have little recourse. The only option you might have is through the Civil Resolution Tribunal which is designed to resolve disputes. ICBC will save money by blocking you from having your day in court.
Reaction to the Legislation
The Attorney General David Eby, a lawyer himself, has stated that lawyers are aggerating injury claims in hopes of getting a larger settlement. This is an unfortunate claim designed to wrangle accident victims out of the money they deserve and to smear lawyers so plaintiffs are afraid to get legal advice or get representation.
Because the new rules are open to interpretation and there is so much greyness in the legislation, you need to hire a good lawyer now more than ever before if you’re in an accident. A good lawyer will fight and negotiate for what you deserve.
Just because ICBC tells you that your injuries are minor or they don’t manifest themselves right away, doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be treated properly.
At SB Law, we fight for your right for a fair settlement. Pain and suffering can vary widely from person to person so we believe you shouldn’t let anybody else decide your fate. While the system may be against you, we are on your side.