Accident rates, injury claims and court costs have driven ICBC into deficit in recent years. (Black Press Media)

B.C. loses court ruling on limiting experts in ICBC injury cases

A-G David Eby says it could cost $400 million a year

One of the B.C. government’s financial reforms for vehicle accident cases has been rejected by the B.C. Supreme Court, a setback that could cost the Insurance Corp. of B.C. as much as $400 million a year.

Attorney General David Eby said Thursday the ruling comes as an unpleasant surprise, since his decision to restrict expert witnesses in vehicle injury cases doesn’t go as far as similar rulings in Australia and the United Kingdom. The rejected change limited expert witnesses and reports to one for “fast-tracked” claims of less than $100,000, and up to three for other cases.

“Given that other jurisdictions, the United Kingdom, Australia, have either outright banned adversarial witnesses or limited them to just one on a matter, why British Columbia couldn’t do three is difficult to understand,” Eby told reporters at the legislature Thursday. “But in any event, we’ll study the decision, we’ll certainly respect the decision of the court, and we’ll either appeal or legislate, or do what we can to make sure that we address this issue, which doesn’t go away just because of this decision.”

RELATED: B.C. limits ‘duelling experts’ in ICBC injury cases

RELATED: New drivers pay most for optional insurance, Eby says

With its cap on “pain and suffering” awards, an alternative dispute system to keep smaller cases out of court and an overhaul of rates to charge higher-risk drivers more, Eby said ICBC was on track to break even or have a small deficit this year after two years of billion-dollar losses.

In a challenge brought by the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled that the restriction on expert witnesses “infringes on the court’s 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.”

Hinkson also rejected the idea that the court could appoint experts, within the same limit of three per side. He described the whole concept of restricting witnesses as unconstitutional.

In question period at the B.C. legislature, B.C. Liberal MLA Mike de Jong demanded to know whether the decision means even higher ICBC insurance rates.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said Eby’s performance on ICBC merits his replacement as minister responsible.

“David Eby’s tinkering with ICBC has not only cost British Columbians more for auto insurance, but it also just blew a $400 million hole in John Horgan’s budget.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Just Posted

Social distancing for wildlife, please

Outdoor photographers urge humans not to get too close to local wildlife.

RCMP and COVID-19 orders

Weekly Columbia Valley RCMP report

DTSS calls for self-isolation yearbook photo submissions

DTSS seeking photos of students doing their favourite self-isolation activities

Curator’s Corner

Gloves then and now

Back in print

We are pleased to announce that the April 9 issue of the Pioneer will be available in print.

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Blasting through the West Kootenay

80 years ago; ‘Pretty near all the people from Fruitvale were working on it’

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

Most Read