By CRM staff
Toronto, Ontario – April 3, 2019 – The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. is taking the provincial government to court, over one of the new insurance policy changes that ICBC set.
On Monday ICBC placed a number of changes into effect for drivers in the province that are expected to save the public insurer more than $1 billion. Some of the changes include a 6.3 percent increase in auto insurance rates and an overall increase in accident benefits. ICBC also placed a $5,500 cap on minor injuries and established a civil resolution tribunal to pass judgement on certain claims, a policy that the Trial Lawyers Association is challenging.
The association launched a constitutional challenge arguing that the minor injury spending cap and tribunal system is going against the Constitution of Canada and is, therefore, restricting drivers access to the courts.
A constitutional challenge means a law is being challenged in court to determine if it violates or is inconsistent with the Constitution of Canada, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“Access to justice is a basic human right guaranteed to us as Canadians under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. president 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,” said Nairne. “This should be about protecting the public interest – not about protecting ICBC .”
The tribunal system that has been set was a resolution for the rising settlement costs. ICBC claims that there has been an unequal gap growing between the premiums collected from customers and the costs of claims paid out each year.
The Trial Lawyer Association members are concerned that the regulations emerging from the recent ICBC legislation will unduly restrict access to the courts and unfairly reduce compensation for those injured on the road. They believe it will make it that much more challenging for British Columbians to protect their rights after being injured on the road.
“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,” said former federal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh.
Shelley Howard of the Campbell River Brain Injury Society also expressed concerns about the impacts of the new legislation and regulations. “The new injury cap legislation and regulations have the potential to discriminate against British Columbians with brain injuries, psychiatric injury, and chronic pain by treating their harms and losses differently than other injuries, and results in a complicated and almost impossible reverse onus of establishing their injuries have caused “incapacity” or “serious impairment,” she said.
According to Nairne, “The Trial Lawyers Association felt compelled to launch a constitutional challenge so that B.C’s courts could review this legislation and accompanying regulations through the lens of protecting our fundamental human rights.”