You may have heard rumblings about changes to car accident injury claims which the New Democratic Party (NDP) has recently legislated in British Columbia.
These changes which the NDP have made at the request of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) include a “cap”, or legislated limit, on money that British Columbia’s courts can award to people injured in car accidents.
The general legal principle applicable to car accident cases is that, so far as is possible through an award of money, those at fault for an accident should put the person they injured back into the position they would have been in absent the accident. The overall goal is fair compensation to those injured as a result of negligent acts. The legislated cap on damages is intended to restrict a judge’s ability to fairly compensate an injured person for their injuries.
It is important to understand that the a cap on damages only applies to injuries resulting from car accidents which occur after April 1, 2019. If a person is injured in a car accident that occurred before April 2019 there is no legislated cap on damages which applies to their legal claim.
For car accidents occurring after April 1st, 2019, it will often times be arguable whether resulting injury claims should properly be subject to the cap on damages. The cap on damage awards is only supposed to apply to injured people with particular types of injuries that have affected them in defined ways.
If someone, from ICBC or otherwise, tells you that your claim is subject to a cap on damages it is important to seek legal advice. An ICBC adjuster attempting to settle your claim represents the interests of the person, or people, responsible for your injuries and has no legal duty to ensure you receive fair compensation.
It is not up to ICBC to decide whether or not the legislated cap should properly apply to a case. This question will fall to be decided by a tribunal. The decision about whether the cap on damages should properly apply to a claim will be a complicated, factually driven, and nuanced determination. Whether or not the cap applies will often times depend on the opinions of medical doctors who may themselves have differing opinions.
As soon as possible after an accident and before accepting any settlement which includes the application of the legislated cap on damages you should seek legal advice. A lawyer experienced in this area of the law can help you put your best case forward. Failing to do so risks your legal rights being unfairly restricted.