Radical Restrictions Monday by BC Attorney General David Eby, on the use of experts in personal injury lawsuits, designed to help ICBC's bottom line, was immediately reported.

The personal injury lawyers were outraged by the fact that Eby, who had already limited claims for minor damages as of April 1, unilaterally amended more rules, causing chaos in court, where cluttered records mean that trials are currently scheduled for 2021.

"It is British Columbia Bar Association that the Attorney General, who is responsible for the administration of justice for all British Columbians, imposes such severe restrictions on the right of the victim to pursue the claim for the benefit of only one party. , ICBC, "said the group representing most of the injury bar.

The group stated that the Attorney General apparently imposed the amendments unilaterally.

"He does so despite the protests of the Independent Rules Committee, composed of judges from the Supreme Court of British Columbia and a number of senior lawyers from various areas of the province, including lawyers. who work on defense for ICBC. "

Bruce Cohen, a retired judge who acts as BC Supreme Court Communications Officer, has refused to get caught up in the controversy.

"I understand that the rules committee meetings are private and the committee members are unable to comment on the discussions at their meetings."

The NDP minister said that the crown corporation's litigation costs have gone up 43% in the last five years.

Although the lawyers may not be responsible, they were part of a costly dysfunctional process, Eby said: "It is the excesses of the current system that are causing problems, a system long awaited for reform."

The amendments, which came into effect immediately, allow each litigant to have an expert and a report for accelerated cases worth less than $ 100,000, as well as three experts and three reports for other vehicle actions.

If necessary, additional experts would be appointed jointly or by a court.

Instead of insinuating their profession caused the "fire dumpster" of ICBC, the lawyers insisted that it was time for Eby to blame those who deserved it – corporate executives who continued to receive bonuses during the financial crisis and bad policies.

They were furious that Eby had adopted by decree the changes made behind closed cabinet doors, preventing any debate in the legislature.

"Adopting such consequential changes in our civil justice system without legislative debate is anti-democratic," the association said in its publication.

"Time and time again, this government seems to favor ICBC's financial interests over the legal rights of British Columbians, and this rush to impose restrictions on how victims of negligence must prove their case before the law is The most recent illustration of which forces car accident victims to pay for imprudences. conduct."

There is no doubt that many of the more than 200 cases of bodily harm each year have ridiculous armies of competing experts who can not agree, with judges and jurors scratching their heads trying to pick their favorite.

The highest court has ruled that a serious criminal trial should not take more than three years, but civil disputes related to car accidents can take a lot longer.

It was not so long ago, I noticed that one of them was taking place six years after the accident, testing the memory and the very purpose of the testimony of witnesses.

Compensation claims related to past and future loss of income, family home capacity, future care costs as well as non-monetary and special damages.

The woman's lawyer gathered the testimony of eight experts, including some of the treating physicians, forensic pathologists, a professional assessment expert and an economist.

More than a decade ago, British Columbia's Justice Task Force stated that the rules for expert evidence required redesign because the presence of dueling specialists made it extremely difficult to solving complex problems. The task force wanted to impose new rules, but the legal profession rejected the initiative. It may be more effective, but may limit the ability of the lawyer to reveal the truth.

Eby said that an average of six experts are retained by lawyers for cases exceeding $ 100,000, compared to an average of two by ICBC.

However, ICBC was criticized in 2017 for using medical experts on a pre-approved list who were producing harmful reports against the plaintiffs. So you can understand why applicants could cover all areas.

Apart from Eby's argument, his numbers are suspect, especially considering the loser pays a fee in the event of a dispute.

When asked to explain the projected high savings – perhaps $ 400 million or more during this fiscal year, the government did not respond in a timely manner.

It sounds a bit harder – perhaps to set the stage for a government bailout or a transition to no-fault insurance?

An ICBC spokesman said that although only about 200 claims for bodily injury are judged each year, appraisal fees are also paid by the company for settled claims.

"We settle about 15,000 injury cases a year and paying the complainants' experts is almost always a condition of the settlement," he said.

Richard McCandless, a retired senior official who examines the ICBC and played the role of presenter at regulatory hearings, pointed out that his books remained opaque.

"ICBC has written key volume and severity information in the 2017 Claims Study prepared by Ernst Young to support the net net savings estimate, using the highly suspect argument that disclosure of this information could adversely affect the financial interests of the company, "he explained. recent analysis.

"Thus, ICBC can use a selection of statistics and comparisons that explain the rapid increase in the estimate of claims costs for the current and prior years, and avoid giving a complete picture, such as the changes in the number and cost of unrepresented claims and are represented but not pleaded. "

imulgrew@postmedia.com

twitter.com/ianmulgrew


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