In this personal injury case, Ross v. Hammer, 2023 BCSC 2306  the defendants sought a stay on the injury claimant’s Supreme Court lawsuit until the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) determined whether the injuries from a motor vehicle accident were minor as per the Insurance (Vehicle) Act. The CRT’s jurisdiction over this matter, as outlined in s. 133(1)(b) of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act, was found to be exclusive, subject only to judicial review.

The Pleadings in Response to the Injury Claim

The court first addressed the claimant’s application to strike pleadings related to the minor injury defense. The plaintiff argued that the defense was unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous, or vexatious, and that it would cause unfair delays. The court, however, ruled against striking the Response to Civil Claim, emphasizing that the determination of minor injuries falls within the CRT’s exclusive jurisdiction.

The judgment also considered the defendants’ application under s. 16.1(2) of the CRTA to stay the proceedings. The court found the defendants’ response to the civil claim lacked the necessary reference to the CRT’s jurisdiction, as required by s. 16.1(2)(a). Any legislation that limits the rights of a party to pursue injury claims must and should be strictly construed, according to Master Krentz.

The following is what was pled in the response to civil claim: “The Defendants say and the fact is that if the Plaintiff suffered any injury in the collision (which is not admitted but specifically denied), then any such injuries were minor injuries as defined by the Insurance (Vehicle) Act and regulations thereto… Any injuries suffered by the Plaintiff in the collision are minor injuries as defined by the Insurance (Vehicle) Act and regulations thereto, and as a result any amount recoverable by the Plaintiff for non‑pecuniary loss are subject to the prescribed amounts set out in that Act and the regulations made under it.”

The court dismissed the defendants’ application but granted them leave to renew it upon amending their pleadings. The court did not automatically allow them to amend their pleadings. Given the proximity to trial, factors such as delay, prejudice may rule against allowing the amendment.( see Wiggins v. Yokota )

ICBC Injury Claim Harder for Claimants

The case’s broader context involves the CRT’s role in determining minor injuries, impacting the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). The decision highlights the complexity of navigating the CRT process and the unfair delays it introduces for claimants, contributing to reduced access to justice. The court’s emphasis on strict interpretation of provisions limiting a party’s right to pursue claims underscores the importance of clear and accurate pleadings in these cases.

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