By Troy McLelan
Lawyer – Simpson, Thomas & Associates
On April 1, 2019, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) was given the responsibility of adjudicating important motor vehicle accident injury disputes. The power to decide significant issues such as your entitlement to no-fault accident benefits, whether your injury is a “minor injury” subject to the cap on non-pecuniary damages, determinations of fault, and damages for personal injury claims of $50,000 or less was given to the CRT.
Critical Problems with the CRT Scheme
Reliance on the mostly online CRT to resolve personal injury disputes was a very significant change in how personal injury claims should be decided. No other province in Canada uses such a scheme. ICBC claim lawyers immediately voiced concerns. A major problem is that the CRT was given a judicial function, a role that is constitutional preserved for BC’s superior courts. You should have access to an independent court and have your case decided by an independently appointed judge if ICBC wrongly puts you at fault for the car accident or incorrectly classifies your injuries as minor. Instead, the CRT scheme forces you to have your ICBC dispute adjudicated by CRT members who are appointed by the BC government.
ICBC Claim Lawyers’ Successful Constitutional Challenge
The constitutional validity of the CRT scheme was successfully challenged by the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia. On March 2, 2021, the Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court ruled that the law giving the CRT jurisdiction over certain motor vehicle injury claims were unconstitutional and no longer in effect. Chief Justice Hinkson ruled that the CRT is no longer allowed to decide if an injury is a “minor injury” and concluded that accident claims worth less than $50,000 should not be referred to the CRT rather than the courts. The BC Supreme Court’s decision did not affect the CRT’s ability to resolve accident benefits claims or alter the CRT’s jurisdiction over enhanced accident benefits claims, which started as of May 1, 2021.
What Does the Constitutional Challenge Mean for Your ICBC Claim?
After the BC Supreme Court released its decision in March 2021, the CRT “paused” existing, unresolved claims for a minor injury determination and claims for fault and damages up to $50,000. However, the BC Attorney General then launched an appeal of the BC Supreme Court decision. On April 8, 2021 the BC Court of Appeal granted a temporary stay of the BC Supreme Court decision. The temporary stay means that the CRT can once again decide if an injury is a “minor injury” and decide claims for fault and damages of up to $50,000 for motor vehicle accidents that happened on or after April 1, 2019. The stay is effective until the Court of Appeal releases its final decision on the constitutional challenge. In the meantime, accident victims are left in limbo. The CRT is no longer “paused” and claimants must choose whether to file or continue their claim at the CRT or file their claim in court instead.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident and are not sure whether to file at the CRT or in court, it is highly recommended that you get legal advice from an experienced ICBC claim lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. Contact Simpson, Thomas & Associates today to schedule a free initial consultation: call us at (604) 689-8888 or visit www.simpsonthomas.com
Phone: 604 697 3967
Email: [email protected]