The Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia (TLABC) is taking the provincial government to court over a number of changes to ICBC that come in effect today.
The organization has launched a constitutional challenge and is arguing that ICBC’s new changes violate the Constitution of Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
According to a press release, members are concerned that the new regulations will restrict access to the courts and unfairly reduce compensation for those injured on the road.
“The regulations will make it that much more challenging for British Columbians to protect their rights after being injured on the road,” reads the statement.
Starting today, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) will resolve motor vehicle accident injury claim disputes valued at $50,000 or less.
The claim limit for pain and suffering has also been capped off at $5,500. Prior to this, the average payout for pain and suffering was $16,499, according to ICBC’s Joanna Linsangan.
Another major change includes the classifications of several injuries, including concussions, whiplash, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Adjustments have also been made to increase wage loss payments, funeral expenses, death benefits, and treatment fees for services like acupuncture, counselling, and physiotherapy.
“Access to justice is a basic human right guaranteed to us as Canadians under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” says TLABC’s Ron Nairne. “The approach this government has taken to legislative and regulatory changes to address ICBC’s mismanagement problems violates the rights of British Columbians.”
TLABC also sought out comment from lawyer, former BC Attorney General and Premier, and former Federal Cabinet Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, who commented the following:
“I am deeply concerned with the impacts on my fellow British Columbians of the impending legislation introduced by our current government. Fixing ICBC is a priority, but not at the expense of access to justice and the charter rights of British Columbians.
I felt compelled to speak out as I do not believe this government has clearly understood or described the impacts of this legislation on the citizens of BC, especially those least able to advocate for themselves after an injury resulting from a road accident.”
Earlier this year, ICBC announced that it was expecting a net loss of $1.18 billion at the end of the fiscal year.
The changes that come into place today are expected to cost almost $200 million annually but are expected to create $1.2 billion in savings.”
“This should be about protecting public interest – not about protecting ICBC.” says TLABC’s Nairne.