There was good news for drivers this week seeking to use medical experts in ICBC cases. Readers of this blog will be aware that the BC government has introduced wide-ranging changes to the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) over the past year or so in an attempt to claw back substantial financial losses. This included new rules limiting the use of medical experts in claim disputes.
Well, it now looks as if the government’s restrictions will not be allowed to stand after the BC Supreme Court decided they were unconstitutional. According to media reports, the Court ruled that limiting expert reports infringed upon the court’s control over its own processes.
Tightening restrictions on medical experts in ICBC cases
Around this time last year, ICBC introduced new restrictions to its injury claims policy. They included a $5,500 limit on payouts for pain and suffering caused by minor injuries, reclassifying certain injuries from serious to minor and introducing a new dispute resolution process.
In February, the government imposed a limit of three expert witnesses and three reports for ICBC claim disputes.
In such disputes, someone with multiple, serious injuries in a car accident – both physical and mental – would rely on experts to comment on the nature of the injuries, their impact on their life and health, and the probable effect they would have in the future. Experts might comment on a person’s future ability to work and the need for different types of care required to maximize their recovery.
A driver left with traumatic brain injuries and other medical problems following a collision issued the original challenge on the three-expert limit at the BC Supreme Court. The driver claimed the limit made it impossible to outline the scope of his injuries.
What was the Supreme Court’s verdict?
BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Hinkson found the limit interfered with the decision-making function of the courts. He said: “I find that the impugned rule infringes on the court’s core jurisdiction to control its process because it restricts a core function of the court to decide a case fairly upon the evidence adduced by the parties.”
He added: “The effect of the impugned Rule is to require the court to play an investigatory function in place of its traditional non-adversarial role, contrary to the principle of party presentation.”
According to Hinkson the limit of three expert reports in ICBC cases would be “practically unworkable”.
Trial Lawyers Association of BC
The Court ruling was applauded by the Trial Lawyers Association of BC which worked on behalf of the driver who issued the court challenge.
It said: “Many British Columbians never need access to the courts, nor do they always require experts to support their case. For those who do, this ruling is of great significance and preserves their ability to obtain justice.”
Acumen Law Corporation can help if you would like to dispute an ICBC claim settlement. Our lawyers have a lot of experience dealing with these kinds of matters and we are here to help. Call 604-370-3050 for a free consultation.