Changes to ICBC payouts could hurt victims, crash survivor warns
A car crash survivor who is still feeling the effects of her concussion nine years later says she's worried the recently announced changes to ICBC payouts could hurt future victims.
Casandra Olund told CTV News she was "absolutely shocked" to learn concussions that don't leave the victim incapacitated will soon be considered minor injuries.
"There is no such thing as a minor head injury," Olund said.
"I still have lingering effects from my head injury. I have issues with communication – I take medications to assist me with that. I have issues with remembering what I'm saying, remembering what I'm doing."
Details of the new ICBC regulations were quietly revealed by the province on Friday, and the changes are scheduled to take effect next April.
They include a $5,500 pain and suffering payout cap for minor injury claims. Concussions won't be considered minor if they impact the victim's daily life beyond four months, however.
ICBC will be relying on a doctor's diagnosis to make that call, and Olund's laywer, Scott Stanley, said anyone who wants to appeal the insurer’s decision will be in for an uphill battle.
"You're pretty much going to be stuck with that decision. If you appeal, you're going to have to go through their avenues to appeal," he said.
Appealed cases will go to a tribunal, not a court, and Stanley said the burden of proof will be on the injured party.
The changes are designed to reduce the financially troubled public insurer's legal fees and other costs. ICBC expects to save $1.2 billion annually, which would cover the bulk of its projected budget shortfall.
But some have expressed concerns that the new rules, particularly the payout limits for minor injuries, will serve to penalize victims instead of bad drivers.
"The cap that this government has introduced, it's the most oppressive, draconian cap of all those that are in Canada," Stanley said.
Attorney General David Eby was not available for an interview Monday. Ministry documents say the province is proceeding with the changes cautiously.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan