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Legislation introduced to limit pain and suffering payouts on minor injury claims

VICTORIA, B.C. — Attorney General David Eby says that the provincial government has introduced legislation to try to restore the finances of ICBC, which he referred to in January as a “financial dumpster fire.”

If they’re approved by the legislature, the amendments to the Insurance Act and the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act will simplify dispute resolution processes for cases under $50,000, allowing them to be resolved in as little as 90 days. Those cases are currently lasting two to three years in B.C. Supreme Court.

The government said that legal fees and expenses have grown to 24 percent of ICBC’s total annual costs.

A limit on pain and suffering damages for minor injuries will allow ICBC to redirect resources to increasing benefits for lost pay and medical rehabilitation for all people injured in accidents. A limit of $5,500 on pain and suffering payouts for minor injury claims would also go into effect on April 1st, 2019. 

The bill defines a minor injury as one “that does not result in a serious impairment or a permanent serious disfigurement” and is not resolved in 12 months. It gives the government broad power to define specific minor injuries in the future.  Injury costs in B.C. increased 80 percent between 2009 and 2016, from from $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion.

“Today’s legislation is about doing what’s best for B.C. drivers – both in what they pay for insurance and in making sure they get the best coverage if they’re injured,” said Eby. “For years, B.C. drivers have had to pay more and more simply to cover the spiralling legal and administrative costs at ICBC. We can’t right the past – but we can put ICBC back on track to deliver more affordable rates and better coverage for drivers moving forward.”

“It is unacceptable, not just that British Columbians faced skyrocketing rates while ICBC lost hundreds of millions of dollars, but also that benefits for injured drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians have been frozen in time for a quarter century. We are rebalancing where ICBC premium dollars go. We’re shifting the money out of administration, expert reports and court processes, and into driver’s pockets through stable rates and better benefits.”

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