'I'm deeply worried': Legal community sounds alarm about B.C.'s planned move to no-fault insurance model
Published Thursday, February 6, 2020 7:49PM PST Last Updated Thursday, February 6, 2020 8:34PM PST
VANCOUVER -- A plan by the province to implement a no-fault type of insurance system to try to take lawyers and court costs out of the equation has B.C.’s legal community concerned.
The president of the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, John Rice, told CTV News Vancouver the government’s solution for the so-called ICBC "dumpster fire" is to create a much bigger fire in a much bigger dumpster.
"I’m deeply worried," Rice said, and he added people have hired lawyers because they’ve felt like they’ve been "bullied" by ICBC. "They’ve said that you’re lying, or you’re exaggerating, or you’re not as hurt as you allege."
Rice said he wants to see consultation with all stakeholders and added the only people who would benefit from the proposed system would be those working for ICBC.
"Instead of getting the choice and the legal right if someone hurts you to sue them in court and to recover fair damages, instead we’re supposed now to trust ICBC to get it right," Rice said. "The only people who are going to make a sacrifice in a no-fault scheme are people who are injured on our roads, because they’re going to get nothing for what they’ve been through for their pain and suffering."
The B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association said it is deeply disappointed in the announcement. In a press release, president Ken Armstrong said only the victims and their families bear the consequences of the accident under a no-fault system.
"No-fault insurance pays the same amount for the same injury, based on set guidelines – and not by how that injury impacts someone’s earning capacity and lifestyle," Armstrong said. The B.C. branch said it "welcomes the opportunity to consult with government on the best path forward."
The Law Society of B.C. said it will be closely monitoring what happens with the new ICBC model and will "consider its response to further developments."
Currently, a person who is injured in a crash and is not at fault can sue the driver responsible for additional compensation.
According to ICBC, insurance rates have been rising every year largely due to increasing costs of the current "litigation-based" system. The corporation said those costs include payments made to lawyers representing drivers, and their own defence counsel, along with reports from doctors and other experts used in court. ICBC said under the current system, those costs could reach about $960 million a year by 2022.