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Vancouver Personal Injury Law Update: ICBC “Minor” Injury Claims Limit

a man sitting in his car rubbing a strained neck

Our personal injury lawyers from Bronson Jones & Company LLP discuss the updates to the limits for ICBC minor injury claims

Vancouver personal injury lawyers have been vigilantly following the much-criticized changes to BC personal injury law that were announced by the BC government in early 2018. The amendments will limit pain and suffering compensation to $5,500 for a “minor injury” whether physical or mental. The $5,500 ICBC minor injury cap will apply to claims arising out of motor vehicle accidents from April 1, 2019 onward. The significance of the amendments to BC personal injury law cannot be understated – they will allow the BC government to dictate what constitutes a “minor injury” and will result in accident victims getting significantly less compensation than they deserve.

Compensation under current system reflects an accident victim’s actual injuries

Compensation for pain and suffering under the current system is based on an assessment of the full type and extent of injuries, the impact the injuries have on the injured person’s life, and how the injuries should be compensated according to similar case law. Personal injury lawyers fight for their clients to receive compensation from ICBC that reflects the true nature and impact of their injuries. The ICBC minor injury cap on pain and suffering will turn away from that principled evaluation of loss, toward a restrictive “one-size fits all” approach that lumps in diverse types of injury claims and imposes an arbitrary and nominal dollar limit.

ICBC minor injury cap means lower compensation for accident victims

ICBC data shows that in 2016, the average pain and suffering award paid out for a “minor injury” claim was more than $16,499. Under the new ICBC minor injury cap, damages for pain and suffering will be limited to $5,500, which means that on average, an accident victim who is considered to have “minor injuries” will lose out on more than $11,000 in compensation compared to the current system. Bear in mind that the ICBC minor injury limit of $5,500 was selected by the BC government with the purpose of reducing its costs of administering accident claims, not because that dollar amount has any foundation in the existing case law or any significance based on input from medical professionals or accident victims. There was no public consultation before the legislation was tabled. Quite simply, the government chose to cap ICBC damage awards as a means to rescue itself from the “dumpster fire” that is its finances.

Personal injury lawyers in Vancouver disapprove of ICBC minor injury definition

The definition of “minor injury” is new to the BC government’s legislation and it is highly problematic. “Minor injury” as defined in Insurance (Vehicle) Amendment Act, 2018 will include physical or mental injury, whether or not it is chronic. It will include abrasions, contusions, lacerations, sprains or strains (i.e., whiplash), and most worryingly, “minor injury” will also include chronic pain syndrome and psychological or psychiatric conditions. Other Canadian provinces limit damages for “minor injuries” (for example, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta), but BC is the only province that will consider chronic pain syndrome, psychological conditions, and psychiatric conditions to be “minor” injuries. The BC government has not offered any explanation as to why it chose to expand the definition to include those types of injuries when no other Canadian province has done so. Also troubling is that the new personal injury law will give the BC government the power to add injuries or classes of injuries to the minor injury definition. Bronson Jones & Company’s personal injury lawyers in Vancouver – with offices throughout the Lower Mainland – will continue to monitor the development of the ICBC minor injury law. Check back to our blog for updates and commentary, and as always, if you or a loved one has sustained personal injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, contact us at 604-852-5100 (or toll-free if you are elsewhere in BC or outside the province: 1-855-852-5100) to discuss your ICBC claim.

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 experts 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.

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