Car accident victims were delivered a catastrophic blow affecting injury settlements for 2018 and the future. Laws passed by a newly formed coalition government empower ICBC to deny, and not settle, injury claims. This has unleashed a flurry of low ICBC settlement offers and dire warnings for the future of  innocent victim compensation in British Columbia. Many are wondering why an auto insurance company is getting better treatment than the injured.
Offers of settlement from ICBC will use discriminatory injury laws, devaluing pain and suffering of car accident victims to $5,500 for what ICBC will call minor injuries. The government of the day has created a social plan which supersedes common human rights available in progressive modern democracies. The legal process by which people seek compensation from those who have harmed them; the goal of promoting just compensation; and deterring harmful driving all have been fatally compromised.
Being a personal injury lawyer in Vancouver since 1995 I have experienced the changing settlement style in the auto industry for over 20 years. The impact of ICBC injury caps on ICBC settlement negotiations:

  • The $5,500 limit for pain and suffering compensation will not apply to all injury cases but will become a barrier to justice. ICBC will consider almost all but the most obvious claims limited by the injury cap.
  • Claimants will need legal advice before agreeing to injury caps application or deciding to dispute the determination of ICBC.  Independent legal advice for injury claimants will be more important than ever when deciding to settle an ICBC case. Without an advocate a claimant will become victim to the application of government endorsed injury caps.
  • ICBC will refer claimants with disputes to a new tribunal. Little or no compensation or accommodation will be provided for claimants to have a legal advocate. Many injury claimants trying to settle will be left alone without an advocate to look out for their best interest. ICBC will have experienced lawyers on their side.
  • ICBC and the lawyers working for ICBC will maintain denials of injury claims- More pernicious, ICBC will stop negotiating many injury claims. Expect more “firm but fair” propaganda. The history of monopolies and the behaviour of government monopolies show a pattern of intransigence when power is obtained or the power of others is limited.
  • ICBC will have special arrangements with healthcare providers that others do not have. ICBC is trying to make secret deals, buying support from healthcare providers. Unfortunately, none of this will be to the best interest of patients and will be designed only to limit ICBC costs. Increased benefits are welcome but well over due and are still inadequate for both the patient and healthcare provider.

Some negative attitudes have already begun within ICBC as they train staff in the new system of settlement. A growing minefield of timelines, deadlines and treatment refusals are on the way. The value once given to quality of life has given way to corporate profit, a chilling future for innocent injury victims in an auto industry once designed for their benefit.
Healthcare providers reading this article should get informed on these matters to avoid patients being discriminated against based on having a poorly documented car accident injury. Confusing ICBC forms, if not properly completed, will limit your patients’ rights and prevent any meaningful settlement.
Now more than ever injury claimants need to seek immediate help after a car accident. These changes do not come into effect until April 2019 although some changes in accident benefits may include benefits starting January 1, 2018. These changes are not meant to help compensate victims for pain and suffering but rather limit this compensation if applied. Keep reading to get more ICBC settlement advice or do a Google search on ICBC injury caps to get the latest news on these changes.
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.- Helping the injured for over 22 years.