ICBC Enhanced Care 2021, celebrated by NDP government, received Royal Assent Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Auto injury victims need to prepare for the worst. Our Attorney General David Eby has coined ICBC no fault auto insurance as “ICBC Enhanced Care”. The Enhanced Care at ICBC will mean the elimination of compensation for pain and suffering. It will also mean ICBC will no longer have to repay your sick bank, short term or long term disability plan if not at fault for an accident. It does not matter whether you are the negligent driver, if you are not at fault for your injury you still get nothing for your loss of enjoyment of life.
Although on the face, the current government has increased benefits amounts, unchanged since 1991, they have eliminated benefits and put caps and limits on others. For example, victims can only get $79 per treatment for physiotherapy under Enhanced Care, whereas before ICBC only had to pay about $25 and the at fault driver paid 100% of the rest. This means in the old system if your physiotherapy cost $100 per session, you would get $25 from ICBC and $75 from the at fault driver. Now, you only get $79, putting the victim in debt $21 every time they receive treatment. This is an example of how Enhanced Care will work at ICBC. ICBC is paying more at the beginning to pay less at the end.
The problem is the NDP government has not told the public about this. The NDP government continues to create the fiction that “Enhanced Care” will provide increased care and recovery benefits. This is simply untrue.
As other Provinces like Nova Scotia are reconsidering the fairness of arbitrary government caps on pain and suffering, BC has decided to eliminate this compensation altogether. The NDP hope to reduce car insurance by 20%. However, the experience in other Provinces shows that the actual long term result is more expensive auto insurance with less legal rights for victims.
Our government appears to have made private deals with victims rights groups. After May, 2021 it will be too late to do anything about these deals. I predict a lot of lawsuits against the government and the associations that have made these private deals. As many large personal injury law firms switch to class action lawsuits, it it likely that we will see more class action lawsuits against ICBC, the government, and healthcare associations for what many perceive as the biggest cash grab in 40 years. Behind door deals with many healthcare associations will be uncovered and revealed to the public.
As a personal injury lawyer I have already had to advise victims caught by the NDP Minor Injury Laws. Young people with brain injuries and long time employees that have exhausted all their sick banks. All are being told by ICBC adjusters that their injuries are minor. ICBC is legally allowed to offer these claimants only $5,500 (car accidents after April 1, 2020, statutory increase to $5,627). However, for car accident after May, 2021 it get worse. ICBC will pay zero ($0.00) to injury victims for pain and suffering.
The government says this is the biggest transformation in auto insurance in 40 years. If that is in fact the case, 2021 will be the beginning of the worse period in BC history for accident victims.
As private lawyers try to adjust to this new reality, many victims will be left behind. As the ICBC Enhanced Care no fault system takes effect, only claimants that can afford to pay lawyers by the hour will get access to a legal advocate. Many personal injury lawyers will no longer be able to offer contingency fee arrangements, allowing claimants to hire a lawyer with no up front fees. ICBC and the government, on the other hand, will have teams of publicly funded lawyers working on their side.
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