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

(B.C. Government photo)
POLL QUESTION: Are you in favour of B.C.’s three-week ban on in-restaurant dining?

Dr. Bonnie Henry called the three week stoppage a “circuit breaker”

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Theatre manager Sophie L’Homme is ecstatic to share the news that Tofino’s aging Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre is finally getting upgrades. (Nora O’Malley photo)
BC Arts grant funding breathes new life into Tofino’s community theatre

“Once it’s done, it’s going to be a pride of the town.”

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

Pickleball is a favourite recreation for older adults on the West Coast. (Westerly file photo)
Pacific Rim Hospice releases older adult survey report

One key theme unearthed during the research process was the need for companionship

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read