The lawyers at our law firm recently discussed the BC Attorney General’s controversial announcement of a $5,500 limit on pain and suffering for minor injury claims, to take effect on April 1, 2019. The new cap on minor injury claims has caused quite an uproar, but it wasn’t the only announcement made: BC’s Attorney General also announced that it would be doubling the lifetime limit for Autoplan Accident Benefits from $150,000 to $300,000.
ICBC touted this increase as greatly enhancing the Autoplan Accident Benefit program and as “just one of the ways ICBC is providing better care for all BC drivers.” However, we are skeptical of the increase and question how many people will really benefit from it. What are ICBC accident benefits? ICBC accident benefits (also known as “Part 7” Accident Benefits or “no-fault” benefits) are available to almost everybody in BC who is injured in a motor vehicle accident, no matter who is at fault. Accident benefits include disability benefits for lost wages, homemaker benefits, and death benefits. Part 7 also covers medical and rehabilitative benefits – this includes necessary medical, surgical, dental, nursing, or physical therapy services, as well as costs for chiropractic treatment, occupational therapy, and speech therapy if needed and approved. How many injured victims in BC will benefit from ICBC’s doubling of the accident benefit limit? There are on average 35 BC residents each year who are catastrophically injured in accidents to such a degree that their lifetime care expenses exceed the previous limit of $150,000. These catastrophically injured victims require accident benefits to cover wage loss and treatment costs as well as extraordinary supports such as home care, wheelchairs, and vehicle upgrades for accessibility. It will be in an extremely rare case that an injured victim in BC would benefit from the increased limit on accident benefits. To be sure, increased financial assistance for the small minority who are catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents each year is a good thing. However, the vast majority of injured victims in BC will never require more than the $150,000 for Part 7 benefits that has always been available, so they get nothing in return for the government’s decision to cap pain and suffering damages at $5,500. Injury lawyers are critical of the timing of the announcement ICBC’s announcement of the increased limit for Accident Benefits coincided with the announcement of the $5,500 cap on pain and suffering for minor injury claims. ICBC’s definition of a “minor” injury will shock you – it includes things like sprains, strains, mild whiplash, cuts and bruises, anxiety and stress from a vehicle accident. That means that thousands of BC motorists every year who sustain whiplash injuries will have their claim for compensation limited to $5,500. So, despite ICBC framing the announcements as benefitting all BC drivers, the reality is that the average injured victim in BC is actually losing rights while the very small minority of catastrophically injured victims are gaining financial benefit. Talk to an injury lawyer for more information If you or your loved one has been catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Bronson Jones & Company LLP’s team of experienced injury lawyers to discuss the new $300,000 accident benefit limit. Legislation will be introduced to make the benefit retroactive so that it will apply to anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident on or after January 1, 2018. Whether your injuries are “minor” or more serious, contact our injury lawyers to discuss your claim for accident benefits. In our experience, it can be a challenge for the average injured victim to get ICBC to pay for wage loss or treatment services (e.g. physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, or counselling). Our lawyers can assist you with your Part 7 claim and ensure you get the money you need to help you recover from the accident injuries. Remember as well that if you are a motorist, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian injured in an accident involving a vehicle licensed and insured in BC, you may also be entitled to claim another type of compensation – a tort claim for damages for losses caused by the negligence of others – in addition to accident benefits. Contact our ICBC lawyers (toll-free, 24 hours) at 1-855-852-5100 for a free initial consultation to discuss your injuries and determine your entitlement to compensation. Legal Guidance & More, from Injury to Recovery Bronson Jones & Company lawyers have extensive trial experience and extensive experience in negotiating fair settlements for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents. We have also developed an extensive network of medical and occupational specialists, therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and others to help you recover and deal with the impact of your injury on your physical health, family life, finances and future. Reports from these may be essential in the development of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call any of the 13 Bronson Jones locations in the Lower Mainland for our expertise and advice. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.