There are several new considerations when it comes to settling ICBC injury cases this year (**see update 2020 ICBC settlement predictions). ICBC began 2019 by withdrawing many settlement offers made in 2018 surprising many claimants without lawyers. Here is what to look out for when it comes to ICBC settlements:
ICBC Internal Policy – ICBC is now making very low offers to claimants’ with and without lawyers based primarily on the amount of time off work. This is not the law and is likely to push some cases into court, confusing others without lawyers into low settlements. ICBC is not looking out for the best interest of the injury claimant. Causing duress for claimants, ICBC appears to be using their renewed monopoly over auto insurance to strong arm vulnerable claimants into low settlements.
ICBC Stops Repaying Work Insurance – One of the most relevant for most personal injury lawyers right now is the change in subrogation legislation. This change impacts car accident occurring on of after January 1, 2018. Private insurers have already stopped insuring people if the injury occurs in a car accident. ICBC disability benefits will increase from $300 per week to $740 per week for accidents after April 1, 2019 making it more likely, with the current law, that private insurers will stop providing benefits.
Minor Injury Caps April 1, 2019– Most claimants are also wondering if they even have an ICBC claim and whether they are allowed to claim money for pain and suffering. The answer is yes. In 2019 claimants can make a claim for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. The difference is the NDP introduced legislation denying rights to victims and giving ICBC more power. The government and ICBC has made it confusing for people to understand if they have a claim.
The Minor Injury Cap Regulations take effect April 1, 2019 and will increase the amount of denied claims by ICBC. ICBC’s own Service Plan predicts a fall in consumer satisfaction for the corporation. ICBC will likely use the new regulations to minimize the value of claims, offering much less than most claimants deserve.
ICBC as an auto insurance monopoly has grown in power in 2018 and will do so again in 2019, with the changes put into effect by the NDP coalition government. Without a legal advocate most auto injury claims will be automatically denied as minor because ICBC now has a special status allowing it to call serious injuries minor. This is based on the ICBC track record of denying minor claims.
This trend began in the early 1990’s as the “no crash no cash” policy. This later evolved into “minimal no damage” and then the Low Velocity Impact Program. These attempts to deny claims as minor was largely unpopular and legitimate injury claimants were being denied.
The Minor Injury Regulation appears go further, it discriminates against auto injury claimants as a vulnerable group. This legislation will have to be reviewed to determine if it offends basic Charter Rights. Until then, it is the law. We need to do our best to interpret this law in a way that serves victims of personal injury.