ICBC injury cap could punish victims instead of bad drivers: advocates
Published Sunday, May 6, 2018 2:32PM PDT
As the province's public auto insurer undergoes its biggest overhaul in decades, some feel a part of the plan will penalize victims instead of bad drivers.
With more drivers on B.C. roads, the collision rate across the province is soaring. Nearly 900 crashes happen every day, and minor injury claims are on the rise.
These claims are among the factors blamed for the Insurance Corporation of B.C.'s projected $1.3 billion shortfall this year, along with legal costs and car repairs.
So in February, the province unveiled the most drastic overhaul of ICBC in decades, including a controversial cap on minor injury claims.
"We hope and are advised that this legislation might get ICBC back into the black, which means that the savings are in the neighbourhood of $1 billion," Auditor General David Eby said in February.
But demonstrators protesting the changes on Saturday said the savings come at a high cost.
"They're going after the victims instead of going after the bad drivers, so it's going to impact all of us," one of the protesters said.
The rally was hosted by the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia and Rights Over Arbitrary Decisions for British Columbia, and held outside the Surrey office of MLA Jenny Sims.
The group has also published a petition asking the NDP government to reverse its decision on injury claim caps. As of the afternoon of May 6, it had been signed nearly 19,600 times.
Critics say the $5,500 cap on pain and suffering payouts for minor injuries, which will come into effect next year, isn't enough. Their concern is that victims of bad drivers will only be victimized again by the new legislation.
Babs Baird is still living with the effects of a soft tissue injury that developed months after her vehicle was rear-ended in 2015.
"I used to be riding horses, snowshoeing, biking, hiking… It's all gone. I can't do it anymore."
She said physical injuries like hers, as well as mental health issues that be triggered by crashes, can linger long after settlements.
"All of the stress and the pain that you go through… I don't think $5,500 is fair enough."
Baird and others gathered this weekend are calling on the province to change the rules before they take effect in April.