B.C. Attorney General David Eby introduces former NDP cabinet minister Joy MacPhail as chair of the ICBC board Aug. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)

B.C. Attorney General David Eby introduces former NDP cabinet minister Joy MacPhail as chair of the ICBC board Aug. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)

Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

David Eby vows battle against ‘personal injury industry’

The chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court has found that parts of B.C.’s vehicle insurance reforms are unconstitutional, particularly the shift of injury cases under $50,000 from courts to an online tribunal.

The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. challenged legislation brought in by Attorney General David Eby to move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal, which was originally set up to resolve strata property disputes. The lawyers lauded the latest ruling by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson of the B.C. Supreme Court, which also questioned Eby’s core argument that court costs are a major driver of huge losses at the Insurance Corp. of B.C.

“The court has declared that it is unconstitutional for the government to simply re-assign the determination of accident claims to its own online tribunal, and out of the courts,” the Trial Lawyers Association said in a statement March 2. “In so doing, the court has provided a check on the government’s ability to create its own tribunal to decide claims against ICBC, while at the same time affirming the historic right of accident victims to pursue remedies for their injuries before the courts.”

Eby said Wednesday he will announce March 8 whether the government will appeal the decision, which his ministry estimates would cost $390 million more if disputes go back to B.C. Supreme Court. He said the decision won’t affect the NDP government’s promised ICBC rate reduction and COVID-19 rebates, which are currently being promoted in a series of TV ads.

Eby continued his combative position on what he called an out-of-control “multi-million dollar personal injury industry that we’re clipping the wings of.”

Hinkson rejected the government’s argument that injury cases have been clogging B.C. courts. He noted that while a third of civil cases filed in court were motor vehicle accident-related in 2019, fewer than one per cent of resolved injury claims actually went to trial between 2015 and 2019. And he also punctured the government’s argument that a surge of lower-value cases is pushing up ICBC’s costs.

RELATED: B.C. won’t appeal decision protecting ICBC court experts

VIDEO: B.C. to reduce ICBC rates, further restrict injury lawsuits

“The Attorney General argues the evidence shows that lower value claims in the range of $50,000 or less made up the vast majority of claims in the system even before the imposition of the cap on non-pecuniary damages for minor injuries,” Hinkson wrote. “In each of the five fiscal years ending in 2016 through 2020, the proportion of resolved bodily injury claims from pre-April 1, 2019 accidents that resulted in payments of $50,000 or less was consistently over 80 per cent, and only an average of about 15 per cent were litigated. The subset of this 15 per cent that were actually judicially adjudicated in trials were less than one per cent.”

Hinkson also ruled against an earlier bid by Eby to reduce court costs by limiting expert witnesses in injury cases, striking down that legislation in October 2019. The government chose not to appeal that decision and instead went ahead with the broader move of capping “pain and suffering” awards at $5,500 and shifting smaller injury disputes to the tribunal.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsICBC

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

A black bear tries to get at a bird feeder at a home near Williams Lake. (Laura Ulrich photo)
Managing bear attractants a top priority in B.C. for 2021: Conservation Officer Service

Garbage, fruit trees, bird feeders, compost and livestock are common attractants for bears

B.C. Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon. (B.C. Cattlemen’s Association photo)
COVID, BSE, water access and private land rights: B.C. Cattlemen’s general manager weighs in

Kevin Boon said positive aspect of pandemic is more people interested in where their food comes from

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The board is planning a 2021 festival no matter the conditions, they are going to make it work! (BCMF directors Buddy Thatcher (from left), Kristen Boulier, Rose Clark, Jeff Gray, Corissa McNeilly and Jayme Kennedy (front), and her hair. (photo submitted)
Bella Coola Music Festival planning on 2021 fest

The BCMF is planning for a 2021 festival on July 17 and 18, however it may look.

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines: Health Canada

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Indigenous Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Grey whale off Vancouver Island develops lesions after being tagged, researchers monitor its condition

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Most Read