By CRM staff
Toronto, Ontario — January 18, 2019 –– Attorney General David Eby is exploring the idea of capping or restricting the costs associated with using expert reports in ICBC cases, as reported by Global.
According to Eby, ICBC has received surprising increased costs from a rise in lawyers’ commission reports used to support their claim requests for injured clients.
“We have seen a massive inflation in the cost per report and inflation in the number of reports that are required to resolve a dispute. The reports are very expensive. They can range from $5,000 to $20, 000,” Eby said.
“Ideally, to resolve a claim you would use as few of these reports as possible because they are so expensive. All of it is paid by ICBC and by extension paid for by the car insurance rates paid for by British Columbians.”
Recently ICBC reviewed approximately 1,200 files that were within three months of trial. From this information the public insurer found that lawyers are using more than three experts in 80 percent of the cases valued above $100,000.
Export reports are used to justify the case for a particular amount in a claim and often require medical professionals who can determine whether or not someone is fit to work, and what impact the accident will have on their standard of living.
ICBC explained that the increase in cases requiring experts is a new phenomenon. In both Ontario and Alberta restrictions are placed on the excessive use of experts that haven’t already been determined to be necessary by law.
In a majority of cases, the private insurer reimburses injured plaintiffs for expert costs in addition to any settlement amount provided for their injuries.
Eby explained that the price of the reports has contributed to the rise in legal costs.
“The problem is that there has been an increase in the year-over-year cost in settlements and inflation in the amount of money being paid out to people suing ICBC without any justification of why that is happening,” Eby said.
ICBC also stated that there is a major discrepancy between the amounts the insurer pays in comparison to how much plaintiffs spend in settlement cases. The insurer said that plaintiffs use more than three experts 60 percent of the time, compared to ICBC using three experts 29 percent of the time.
Ron Nairne, Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. president, doesn’t agree with ICBC’s figures, explaining that the public insurer isn’t showing the full cost price.
“We don’t really know what the losses at ICBC are,” Nairne said. “We think this is a political game that ICBC is playing and the numbers are not real at all.”
“Their financial reporting is very thin.”