Since the NDP have been in power, the party has completely restructured ICBC to suit the government’s needs and to save this crown corporation money. Instead of focusing on restructuring and fixing the severe mismanagement of ICBC to protect injured claimants, British Columbians have been the target with their rights being stripped away with the passage of new laws. Slowly, a number of these “new laws” have been struck down as being unconstitutional.
First, the NDP passed a law limiting the number of experts and expert reports allowed to be presented in an ICBC claim. Injured claimants were the most effected by this, not ICBC, because their ability to prove their claim and their injuries through expert evidence was removed. In a prior blog post, we revealed a secret ICBC email which showed that the clear intention of ICBC was not to help improve ICBC to serve British Columbians better, but to manipulate the expert rule to devalue existing claims. In Crowder v. British Columbia (Attorney General) 2019 BCSC 1824, this new law was constitutionally challenged. The judge ruled that this new law was illegal and it was struck down (voided) restoring an injured claimant’s ability to pursue justice.
Second, the NDP passed a law removing the right of injured claimants to present their claims in a court of law and instead directed claims to an online tribunal known as the Civil Resolution Tribunal. With this, if ICBC decided that an injured claimant’s injuries were “minor” and subject to the minor injury cap of $5,500.00 then they would only be able to challenge this decision through this online tribunal. Judges do not hear matters before this online tribunal. Instead, there are tribunal members appointed by government which is also in charge of ICBC creating a substantial conflict of interest. This new law was constitutionally challenged in TLABC v. BC(Attorney General), 2021 BCSC 348. Again, the judge ruled that this new law was illegal and it was struck down (voided) showing that the NDP cannot simply strip away the rights of British Columbians in favour of the ICBC government monopoly.
An ICBC class action lawsuit was filed which alleges that the BC government has illegally passed the cost of doctor’s visits for accident victims onto the ICBC. In other words, it is alleged that the provincial government has been illegally charging accident victims the cost of doctor visits when those should have been paid directly through MSP. The law, which the government themselves made, makes it quite clear that those costs should be borne by MSP and not ICBC. The impact of this scheme is two-fold. First, it is alleged that this has substantially increased insurance premiums over the years with the result of BC having the highest auto insurance premiums in Canada. Second, it is withholding accident benefits (part 7 benefits) from injured claimants. This is especially devastating to severely injured claimants (i.e. paraplegics, etc) whose part 7 benefits are easily maxed out due to their extensive care needs. Once the maximum limit is reached, then the part 7 benefits end and these catastrophically injured claimants are on their own to fund their lifelong care needs without proper funds to do so. When a portion of their benefits are being wrongly diverted, then their benefits are being riddled away incorrectly instead of being used for rehabilitation and much needed support.
It has now been revealed that government plans to introduce legislation that will “include provisions that are explicitly retroactive and provide clear statutory authority for the reimbursement.” This latest move has been heavily criticized by the legal community. In a CBC article on the NDP’s latest ICBC tactic, the lawyer who is bringing the class action against the government alleges that this is an attempt by the NDP to wrongly “kill the lawsuit” stating:
“I think people can reach their own conclusions and ask themselves, why is the attorney general trying to interfere in a lawsuit that’s before the court unless he thinks the province is going to lose?” Stanley said.
“This sure could be construed as a cover up by the NDP.”
The class action certification hearing is currently taking place at the Vancouver Supreme Courthouse. We will report more on this ICBC class action lawsuit as more details are released.