As you may be aware, the controversial “minor injury cap” which applies to BC motor vehicle accidents that occurred on or after April 1, 2019. It purports to limit recovery on damages for pain and suffering to $5,627 if you suffered certain types of “minor” injuries. The new BC motor vehicle accident law defines a minor injury as including injuries that range from bruising, cuts and sprains, all the way up to concussions, certain whiplash-associated disorders, TMJ disorder, and psychological conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Who decides whether your injuries are minor, and what happens if you do not agree with that decision? What is the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) and what does this mean for your ICBC claim? The outcome of the determination of the CRT can have a significant impact on the compensation you receive in your ICBC claim.
There was another major change made to BC motor vehicle accident law when the minor injury cap was imposed: as of April 1, 2019, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) was given the responsibility of adjudicating many motor vehicle accident injury disputes in BC. That means that your ICBC claim may be determined not by the BC Supreme Court, but by the CRT, which now has the jurisdiction to decide:
Whether your motor vehicle accident injuries are “minor” or not;
Your entitlement to Part 7 Accident Benefits;
Liability for the accident (who is at fault for the accident); and
Damages for claims up to the monetary limit of $50,000, whether your injuries are minor or not.
The CRT is an online tribunal, so if your ICBC claim is being decided by the CRT, you will be required to fill out electronic forms to make your case. The CRT claims that it is set up with the expectation that parties (in other words, ICBC as a representative of the driver who caused the accident and you as the injured person) will negotiate directly once the online claim has been started.
What Does the CRT Mean for my ICBC Claim?
The lawyers at Simpson, Thomas & Associates want accident victims to know that the CRT process is much more complex than the CRT’s website would have people believe. For example:
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident that occurred after April 1, 2019 and have an ICBC claim for certain type of injuries, ICBC will take the position that the minor injury cap applies such that your general damages are limited to $5,627. If you disagree, any disagreement must be resolved by the CRT. You have the burden of proving that your injury is not a minor injury.
BC law now includes the presumption that a minor injury claim will fall within the CRT’s monetary jurisdiction of $50,000. In fact, the CRT has jurisdiction over all motor vehicle accident claims within the $50,000 monetary limit, whether the claim involves minor injuries or not. This means that total damages will be limited to $50,000 unless the injured person is able to establish that there is a “substantial likelihood” that their damages will exceed the $50,000 limit (i.e., the cap of $5,627 for general damages, plus all other heads of damages you may be entitled to, such as past wage loss, future loss of earnings, and future care costs).
If it is established or agreed that your injuries are not minor or if you are able to establish that there is a “substantial likelihood” that your damages will exceed the CRT’s $50,000 limit, you can commence a claim in Supreme Court of British Columbia, but there will be costs implications if the ultimate settlement or award is less than $50,000 – your recoverable costs could be limited to what is permitted if the proceeding had been brought in the CRT.
Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help me with a CRT ICBC claim?
A lawyer can review your case and advise you on whether your injuries are more properly classified as injuries that have caused “serious impairment” such that the minor injury cap on general damages should not apply to your ICBC claim. A lawyer can help you through the CRT process. Services may include:
- Negotiating with ICBC on your behalf;
- Preparing documents and medical evidence to submit to the CRT to support your claim;
- Challenging determinations of fault or entitlement to damages; and
- Ensuring that you do not miss important timelines (known as “limitation periods”) to bring a claim in the BC Supreme Court while your case is going through the CRT process.
Get Legal Advice
Regardless of whether ICBC says you suffered more minor injuries, or you have sustained serious motor vehicle accident injuries that are obviously not minor in nature, you want to be sure that you receive full and fair compensation. It is highly recommended that you get legal advice from an experienced Vancouver ICBC claim lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. Contact Simpson, Thomas & Associates today to schedule your free initial consultation. Call us on 604 689 8888.
By Adam Ueland
Simpson, Thomas & Associates