THE Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBABC), on Tuesday said that it acknowledges that the Government of BC needs to find ways to address the financial situation at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). However, some of the proposed actions by the government do not adequately protect the rights and well-being of victims of motor vehicle accidents, specifically the implementation of a limit on pain and suffering claims for minor injuries, it argued.
Rather than imposing limitations on the rights to compensation, CBABC said it encourages the government to implement changes that will serve three purposes: protection of the rights of British Columbians; reduction in the incidence of accidents and injuries; and improvement of the rate of recovery following injury.
“The unintended consequences of implementing a cap will deprive many British Columbians of the compensation they deserve. Caps decrease the accountability of unsafe drivers, the cost of which is then borne by the victim who was not at fault. The answer to ICBC’s current financial woes is not to place the burden on the shoulders of innocent victims,” said Bill Veenstra, CBABC President.
Veenstra added: “CBABC looks forward to working with the government to see a modernized system of premium assessment that motivates reasonable and prudent behaviours, penalizes risky and unsafe behaviours, and costs drivers more to insure luxury vehicles.”
CBABC noted that it has been strongly advocating for improvements in accident benefits, which have been frozen since 1991, and supports this change as beneficial to the public. The doubling of the lifetime allowance for medical care and recovery costs from $150,000 to $300,000 reflects modern realities and will reduce the need for victims to pursue litigation against ICBC. While victims of motor vehicle accidents who are not at fault are entitled to full compensation for these costs in any event, paying the full costs of treatment up front is a key improvement as well.
However, CBABC asserted that these changes will not have as significant a financial impact as suggested, and should not be treated as a “trade-off” for the imposition of a cap.