Beginning on April 1, 2019, significant changes went into effect on the system of motor vehicle insurance throughout British Columbia. After years of lobbying from the ICBC, the provincial government has taken strict cost-cutting measures aimed at curbing insurance payouts for pain and suffering compensation after a crash.
These changes could have a dramatic effect on your financial recovery if you are injured in a crash. It is important to understand how your rights have changed. While these changes could limit your recovery in some situations, the guidance of a personal injury law firm could help you maximize the benefits available to you.
To soften the blow of other cost-cutting measures, the government also announced some increases in the maximum of certain types of benefits. For starters, benefits are available for a larger array of treatment options. Some of the new treatment options include:
The changes also bring a new benefit for medical equipment and supplies. If you are injured in a crash, you could collect up to $1,000 towards medical devices or therapy equipment.
Motorists also see an increase in the maximum benefits on certain types of claims. For example, supplemental income has more than doubled to $740 a week. Compensation for in-house support like cooking and cleaning has also increased to $280 per week.
Finally, compensation following a fatal accident has also increased. Maximum death benefits paid to surviving relatives have increased by 67 percent to a maximum of $30,000. Available funeral cost benefits have also more than doubled. Those benefits are now capped at $7,500. While these are maximum benefits, surviving family members may need to rely on a personal injury lawyer to recover the full value of their claim.
Limits on pain and suffering compensation
These changes are not all good news for drivers. After all, the new laws were designed to save the crown corporation substantial money each year by drastically reducing access to pain and suffering compensation following a crash.
Under the new rules, pain and suffering compensation will not change following a major injury. However, there is now a cap of $5,500 on pain and suffering compensation for any minor injuries suffered in an accident.
One significant issue with this approach is that the definition of a minor injury is broad. The ICBC is working to push the boundaries on what constitutes a minor injury. The end result is that fairly severe medical conditions are facing caps due to the misapplication of the minor injury designation. That does not mean your chances of recovering fair compensation are over. An ICBC lawyer from Preszler Injury Lawyers could establish that your injuries do not qualify as minor.
Civil Resolution Tribunal
Another major change is the expansion of the Civil Resolution Tribunal. This tribunal now hears vehicle injury claims valued at under $50,000. Instead of proceeding with litigation, a claimant will instead submit an online form to seek compensation from the ICBC or another insurer.
At the beginning of the process, the tribunal works as mediators. They will encourage both sides to reach a compromise settlement instead of resulting immediately in litigation. If the parties resolve their claim at this point, there will be no need for additional litigation. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the tribunal will step in as a binding arbitrator.
This tribunal is informal, with hearings taking place over the phone or by e-mail. The Civil Resolution Tribunal will not only determine fault in a crash, but they will also decide if an injury is minor or not.
Discuss these changes with a compassionate injury lawyer
In the end, these changes are a mixed bag for British Columbia motorists. While there is plenty to like in the additional coverage options, the cap on pain and suffering could greatly impact your injury claim.
Preszler Law Firm understands how a serious accident can affect your life. We are prepared to take on the ICBC and establish that you are entitled to fair compensation from your claim. To discuss in detail how Preszler Injury Lawyers could help, set up a free consultation right away.