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.

Just Posted

Columbia River Treaty: ‘It is going to get tough’

B.C. negotiator tells Nelson meeting that talks are cordial, so far

Midway man finds new freedom with a dutiful companion

Brett Merchant met his new service dog, Carrie, at a training facility in Ontario in September

Boundary Métis Community Association celebrates Louis Riel in Grand Forks

The association’s next big event will be a Family Day fishing derby at Wilgress Lake in February

Curlers throw in Grand Forks bonspiel

Nearly 100 curlers took over the curling club last weekend for the tournament

Weekend losses for Border Bruins stretch losing streak to six games

The Bruins have been outscored 38-14 over their last six games

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Security guard at Kamloops music festival gets three years for sexually assaulting concertgoer

Shawn Christopher Gray walked the woman home after she became seperated from her friends, court heard

Algae bloom killing farmed fish on Vancouver Island’s West Coast

DFO says four Cermaq Canada salmon farms affected, fish not infectious

Three cops investigated in connection to ex-Vancouver detective’s sexual misconduct

Fisher was convicted in 2018 after pleading guilty to kissing two young women who were witnesses in a criminal case

Most Read