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

33rd annual Rotary Auction raises $50,000 gross profit

The Rotary Auction is an annual joint project between the Port Hardy and Port McNeill clubs.

Port Hardy Secondary School girls volleyball team competes in Parksville

The girls volleyball team has a new coach this year, Kenzie McDonald.

Port Alice resident is taken on by a major publisher

As a youth, Wilkie was gigging in a 3-piece punk rock band called Sponge Cookie.

BCTF rejects mediator’s recommendations for settlement

Negotiations between B.C. teachers and the province will continue

First annual North Island Christmas Festival

“If it’s a big success we can do it every year”

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Adoption centre closes despite effort to save it; B.C. left with two agencies

Choices Adoption and Pregnancy Counselling in Victoria was set to close in April

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to meet with Trudeau today to discuss throne speech

Top ask will be for Liberal support for the immediate creation of a national universal pharmacare program

B.C. set to announce changes around youth vaping, regulations

Move will involved education, tightening access, working with partners and pressuring the federal government

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Vancouver Island soap company releases Lucky Lager beer soap

Beer-infused olive oil soap comes out just in time for holiday shopping

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Most Read