BC limits court experts in auto insurance to spur early settlements, savings

14 Février, 2019, 04:54 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • General David Eby

Going forward, parties in a motor vehicle dispute will only be allowed to use one expert and report for claims under $100,000 and up to three experts and reports for all others. "These changes are meant to encourage greater use of court-appointed or joint experts to provide a more neutral expert opinion and assist the court in determining appropriate amounts for injury claims". "We have to address the underlying system". "It doesn't advance any interest to have a $50,000 expense to resolve a $100,000 claim", Eby said.

Eby's announcement comes just days after the public auto insurer posted a net loss of $860 million in the first nine months of the fiscal year - $273 million higher than expected.

The government is also considering making this rule applicable to all personal injury claims as of February 1, 2020. The increased use of experts has contributed to a 20% increase in ICBC's litigated injury settlements over the a year ago.

The provincial government says vehicle injury claims have increased by 43 per cent in the past five years and the increased use of experts has contributed to a 20 per cent increase in ICBC's litigated injury settlements over the last year. In 2014, the minimum capital test was plus 193 per cent.

"Lawyers are not to blame for ICBC's financial crisis", the Attorney-General said.

Eby has infamously called ICBC's finances a "dumpster fire", but McCandless said it's worse than that.

ICBC is a Crown corporation and so, theoretically can not go insolvent because it would be backstopped by the provincial government and taxpayers. More importantly, if all the claims came due today and ICBC had to settle everything today, could they afford to do it?

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ICBC spokesperson Adam Grossman argued the corporation also has $15.6 billion in its investment portfolio, on top of claims reserves.

Mr. Eby said he expects the Crown corporation's financial challenges to ease after another set of changes announced a year ago comes into effect on April 1.

Mr. Eby said The Globe investigation showing ICBC's tactics of recruiting experts to unfairly discredit injury claims was "an embarrassment for the corporation, and an illustration of why we are trying to move to reform this adversarial expert system". That led to a government review of ICBC's list of approved medical experts.

"I believe ICBC and the plaintiffs are operating with a very broken system". "There are excesses that have taken place on the ICBC side. There are excesses that have taken place on the plaintiff bar side in terms of experts".

"There is no doubt this decision may have a significant impact on how lawyers approach their clients' claims", Eby said. However, the judiciary will be able to permit additional court-appointed or joint experts at its discretion.

The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., which has threatened a legal challenge against the government reforms, criticized the cap on experts.

"Passing such consequential changes to our system of civil justice with no legislative debate is undemocratic", the association said in a statement Monday". He noted both the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) and private lawyers are responsible for driving up the cost of settlements through the use of adversarial experts. He added those savings depend on how lawyers and judges respond to the changes. In the United Kingdom, personal injury lawsuits can include one joint expert with the permission of a judge and in Australia, no experts can be used unless explicitly permitted by a judge. That is about half of the number typically recruited now to provide expert assessments in a motor vehicle-related court case in B.C.; the other provinces all have limits.

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