ICBC – Client care or self preservation?

Lawyers were the first group to be blamed after ICBC gained support by the Government to cap injured driver’s claims for recovery and rehabilitation treatments. Nothing was mentioned about the mismanagement of a crown corporation stated by the NDP in 1973 and mismanaged frequently during that time.

As always it is far easier to seek a “scape goat” than accept and resolve from the true responsibilities – both of your own other’s making. The difficulties are hardly surprising since the Liberal government admitted, in 2017/18, that it had taken $1.2 billion from ICBC coffers since 2010 via dividend profits.

That means ICBC is not exactly the financial dumpster fire that the NDP claimed – rather that, it has produced significant profits for our provincial government in recent years which have been conveniently forgotten about – after all, its all the greedy lawyers and unreasonable victims – certainly not ICBC, nor the the government and definitely not those into whose pockets the money finds its way.

There is a long, complex and likely somewhat distasteful story behind the 2019 changes affected by ICBC. This will not be the first time such an issue has arisen, BC Hydro being another example to compare.

I share the article below ( Castanet – Jeremy Hainsworth ) as it is reflective of the issue and highlights how, in one fell swoop, ICBC has removed coverage for legitimate treatment following injuries caused by others.

ICBC – don’t blame lawyers

B.C.’s government should focus on fixing ICBC’s management problems and changing poor driving behaviour to cut costs instead of blaming lawyers for trial costs, the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. says.

B.C. Supreme Court last week told Victoria its changes to court rules in an attempt to cut vehicle accident case costs through limiting expert evidence in trials are unconstitutional.

Attorney General David Eby said the decision could cost ICBC $400 million. He said one in four dollars goes to legal costs.

“You’re looking at half a billion dollars in terms of just lawyers’ fees alone that are paid for out of premiums of British Columbians. Clearly, there is room for improvement in terms of the efficiency in how disputes are resolved.”

He said part of reducing costs is moving disputes less than $50,000 to a civil resolution tribunal rather than going to supreme court

However, association president Ron Nairne said the $400 million number is impossible to know. He said the government had taken projected savings and booked them into this fiscal year.

The association said the government is correct to point to raising claims costs as one driver for additional costs – but not the only one. It said it’s the rates of accidents driving claims.

“Lawyers are not responsible for determining the value of a claim; the courts are. And the pressure of court decisions is what obliges ICBC and plaintiff’s counsel to seek mediated middle ground and avoid going to court, which is a costlier process,” the association said in a statement.

Nairne said it’s ICBC that drives people to lawyers and into the courts through poor management of claims in the first place.

He cited the case of one client who was seeking a claim of $30,000 through the insurer but wound up getting $400,000 in court.

He said experts are needed for clients to make their cases if they are forced to go before a judge. Each expert would testify about a different issue such as injuries, retraining, rehabilitation and other things, he said.

“These are not isolated examples,” Nairne said. “It’s just the way ICBC is. They’re just very poor at recognizing legitimate claims.”

Eby said once people go to court, “the costs go through the roof.”

P.S. – As a post script I would like to add that my services as an expert witness have been in demand from both plaintiff and defendant, yet ICBC have however little need as they appear to have their own “group” of “experts” to whom they refer for their own, “impartial reports”.

Author – Stephen Bray DDS

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