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CBA report makes case for modernizing justice system post-pandemic

By Kirsten McMahon

A recently released report from the Canadian Bar Association details how the country’s justice system quickly changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and provides recommendations to enhance access to justice in the future.

“It’s encouraging to see the CBA highlight many of the ways the justice system is continuing to evolve and advocate for a more accessible, modern and user-centred system beyond the pandemic,” says Easy Legal Group of Companies President and CEO Larry Herscu.

The report — “No Turning Back: CBA Task Force Report on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19” — was released at the CBA’s annual general meeting in mid-February. The association launched a task force composed of members of the bench, bar and other thought leaders to assess the immediate and evolving issues for the delivery of legal services resulting from the pandemic.

Herscu notes there are two underlying themes throughout the 30-page report.

“First, the task force is clear that there is no going back to the way we used to do things. The pandemic brought about much-needed modernization, and we must continue to build on what has been implemented to date,” he says. “Second, these new measures must enhance access to justice rather than unintentionally inhibit it.”

The task force recommends all dispute resolution bodies permanently implement measures to improve access to justice, modernize and address long-standing challenges in the justice system, including:

  • Availability of video, online, telephone proceedings for settlement conferences, examinations for discovery, various hearings, motions, trials and appeals — particularly for procedural, uncontested, shorter and less complex matters.
  • Electronic filings (via secure drop box, online portals, email, etc.) of court documents and acceptance of service by email;
  • Significant investment into the timely and effective implementation of new procedures and technologies to deliver justice remotely, including training in the proper use of that technology.

The task force notes that while dispute resolution bodies should ultimately decide if a matter is to proceed remotely, parties should have an opportunity to be heard and present their position on it.

Herscu says many of the recommendations detailed within the report echo the personal injury bar and legal suppliers’ sentiments, particularly when it comes to remote proceedings and electronic filings.

“Over the past 12 months, we have witnessed the disruption of every facet of our lives. The pandemic has also exposed deficiencies in our systems, and we have quickly pivoted to meet those challenges. Despite being more traditionally slower moving, the justice system is no different in the regard,” he says.

For example, he points to the increased use and acceptance of virtual medical assessments in personal injury claims. Virtual discoveries and mediations are more common, particularly in jurisdictions that are still facing lockdowns.

While access to justice for plaintiffs is paramount, the task force also grapples with the open court principle as well as privacy and confidentiality concerns. The report states the emergence of online proceedings can pose challenges to the public and media’s ability to access hearings.

“For example, in British Columbia, the courts require people to apply to attend virtual hearings, making it less open than simply walking into a courtroom. In Quebec, people wishing to attend hearings online must submit forms and wait for an answer. As a result, it is more difficult for the public to attend hearings,” notes the report.

As well, the report details the consequences of the justice system relying on commercial platforms “that gather, analyze and sell information generated by users (in this case, justice system participants) for profit.”

The task force suggests dispute resolution bodies look to other industries that deal with sensitive information — such as the financial services industry — to glean how to control their data, curtail their dependence on commercial platforms and protect their independence.

In the longer term, the justice system could explore developing its own platforms or open-source options.

“Alternatively, and perhaps more effective, the federal government should consider regulating private platforms or subjecting them to some level of oversight and scrutiny,” the report suggests.

Herscu says as we approach the one-year mark of COVID-19 restrictions in Canada, the innovative and efficient ways of providing services to the public are keeping things moving along for accident victims. He says having an organization like the CBA advocate for long-term change is crucial for access to justice.

“Many of the task force recommendations will be a lifeline for personal injury plaintiffs who continue to face delays as their lawyers fight for fair settlements,” Herscu adds.

The Easy Legal Group of Companies is a Canadian litigation financing firm. Its lending solutions service the personal injury sector including plaintiffs with pending injury claims, their legal representatives and the service providers involved in their cases. The firm is registered to conduct business in Ontario, B.C., Alberta and the Atlantic provinces. Services are delivered through four brands: Easy Legal Finance Inc., Rhino Legal Finance, Seahold Legal Finance and Settlement Lenders.

Easy Legal Finance Inc. acquires Settlement Lenders Inc.

Third acquisition further strengthens market position as a leading litigation financing firm, servicing the personal injury sector.

TORONTO, Jan. 12, 2021 /CNW/ – Easy Legal Finance Inc. a Canadian litigation financing firm, announced today the acquisition of Settlement Lenders Inc. Based in Edmonton, Settlement Lenders Inc. started serving clients in the early 1990s as one of the first firms in the country to offer pre-settlement lending to personal injury plaintiffs.

With this announcement, the Easy Legal Group of Companies has acquired the three original and most established litigation lenders in the country, creating an unparalleled portfolio of national brands.

“Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, we remain focused on our goal of strategic growth, through the acquisition of well-established and successful businesses. This acquisition, in addition to Seahold Legal Finance completed last year, demonstrates our continued commitment to servicing this sector,” said Larry Herscu, President & CEO of Easy Legal Finance Inc.

“Over the past 30 years, we have been providing personal injury plaintiffs with the financial support required, through the legal process,” said Tim Latimer, President & CEO of Settlement Lenders. “Easy Legal’s reputation for client service is uniquely aligned with ours and I’m pleased to have them further expand our service offering and evolve the firm, for the benefit of our clients and lawyer partners.”

Mr. Herscu also added that, “The Easy Legal Group of Companies will maintain its mission and remain dedicated to helping those who have been hurt, are in need of financial support, in partnership with the plaintiff bar and its service providers.”

About the Easy Legal Group of Companies
The Easy Legal Group of Companies is a Canadian litigation financing firm. Its lending solutions service the personal injury sector including plaintiffs with pending injury claims, their legal representatives and the service providers involved in their cases. The firm is registered to conduct business in Ontario, B.C., Alberta, and the Atlantic provinces. Services are delivered through four brands: Easy Legal Finance Inc., Rhino Legal Finance, Seahold Legal Finance and Settlement Lenders.

www.easylegal.ca

www.rhinofinance.com

www.seahold.ca

www.settlementlenders.com

For further information:

Nicole Popovich – Chief Operating Officer, 647-297-8801, [email protected]

Discoverability trumps timeline on catastrophic injury claims: SCC

By Kirsten McMahon

The Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) recent dismissal of an appeal in a catastrophic injury benefits matter is “important for personal injury plaintiffs,” says Rhino Legal Finance, President and CEO Larry Herscu.

“The SCC upheld the appeal court’s decision, which provides clarity around the standard of review for limitation periods,” he says.

By dismissing the insurance company’s appeal, the country’s top court upholds the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Tomec v. Economical Mutual Insurance Company, 2019 ONCA 882, which applied a standard of discoverability, rather than a strict timeline, on applications for catastrophic injury benefits.

The matter involved a pedestrian who was hit by a motor vehicle in 2008. Court documents state she was hospitalized and required surgery as a result of the accident. She applied to her insurer and received statutory accident benefits for attendant care and housekeeping benefits.

These benefits are payable for 104 weeks following an accident unless the beneficiary sustains a “Catastrophic Impairment” (CAT) designation. In CAT cases, the 104-week time limit does not apply.

In August 2010, the insurance company sent a letter to the woman, advising her that she would no longer qualify for the benefits past September 12, 2010. At that time, the woman’s injuries did not meet the level of CAT, and she did not appeal the termination of benefits to the License Appeal Tribunal (LAT). However, over the next five years, she underwent various medical tests, and her condition worsened. In 2015, her doctor determined that she met the definition of CAT as a result of the 2008 accident.

Her insurer accepted that she was CAT and provided various elevated statutory accident benefits on that basis but refused to provide further attendant care and housekeeping benefits. The insurance company took the position that it had denied the benefits in its 2010 letter, and the window to dispute that decision had passed.

Herscu explains that under s. 281.1(1) of the Insurance Act and s. 51(1) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS), there is a two-year limitation period to dispute an insurer’s refusal to pay.

“This leaves a small class of accident victims who suffer from long-lasting, serious injuries in a Catch-22,” he says. “The clock on the limitation period starts running when there is a denial of a benefit. But there can’t be a denial until there is entitlement to that benefit.”

In the Court of Appeal decision, Justice C. William Hourigan states that the “hard limitation period puts the appellant in an impossible situation, where the time for claiming a benefit commences when she is ineligible to make such a claim. This is an absurd result. To choose it, as the LAT did, is unreasonable.”

The three-judge panel noted that courts have recognized the rule of discoverability may apply to limitation periods.

“Discoverability generally provides that a limitation period will not begin to run until the material facts on which the cause of action is based are known to the plaintiff or ought to have been known through the exercise of reasonable diligence,” the ruling states.

“It is not a universal rule applicable to all limitation periods but a rule of construction to aid in interpreting limitation periods,” Hourigan continues, citing Pioneer Corporation v. Godfrey, 2019 SCC 42.

Herscu says the Court of Appeal’s analysis is important because it recognized the woman fell within a small category of victims who suffer from lasting and severe health impacts as a result of a motor vehicle accident.

“The appeal court acknowledged that a hard limitation period prevents the appellant from claiming the benefits the SABS are intended to provide,” he says.

“This is not in line with consumer protection legislation designed to provide fair compensation and minimize economic disruption in the lives of accident victims,” Herscu adds.

The Easy Legal Group of Companies is a Canadian litigation financing firm. Its lending solutions service the personal injury sector including plaintiffs with pending injury claims, their legal representatives and the service providers involved in their cases. The firm is registered to conduct business in Ontario, B.C., Alberta and the Atlantic provinces. Services are delivered through three brands: Easy Legal Finance Inc., Rhino Legal Finance and Seahold Legal Finance.

Proposed amendments to Evidence Act troubling for plaintiffs: Herscu

By Kirsten McMahon

The most recent round of changes introduced to reduce the cost, complexity, and delay associated with Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) claims have the potential to impede access to justice for motor vehicle accident victims, says Rhino Legal Finance, President and CEO Larry Herscu.

In particular, he says amendments to the province’s Evidence Act would limit recoverable disbursements in motor vehicle personal injury cases and restrict the use and cost of experts.

“On its face, the B.C. government’s goal of resolving ICBC settlement claims more efficiently is laudable,” Herscu says. “However, once you delve into the proposed legislation and look at it alongside other recent changes to the province’s insurance scheme, it paints a troubling picture for personal injury plaintiffs and the bar.”

Earlier this year, B.C. Attorney General David Eby announced the proposed changes to the Evidence Act, which include:

  • a limit of one expert and expert report for each party for fast-track claims under $100,000, and up to three experts and reports for all other claims;

  • a limit on the amount recoverable from the unsuccessful litigant for the cost of each expert report to $3,000; and

  • a limit on total court expenses to five per cent of judgment or settlement amounts for all trials after Oct. 1, 2020.

“With limits on the number of experts and expert reports, we are reducing the cost, complexity, and delay associated with expensive duelling experts,” Eby said at a press conference in late February.

“It means that claims will be resolved more efficiently,” he said.

 Global News reports the province previously attempted to limit expert reports but the change was defeated in court.

Last year, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled the province’s “limits on expert reports was unconstitutional because it violated the powers of a court’s control over its processes,” Global notes.

Eby remains “optimistic the legislation will withstand legal challenges,” although the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia (TLABC) says the legislation raises significant constitutional concerns, the media outlet reports.

Herscu agrees with TLABC and says the bill poses concerns around access to justice, noting the average cost of an expert report is much higher than the proposed $3,000 cap.

“When you also take into account the five per cent cap on recoverable disbursements — which is a significant change — a plaintiff is at a severe disadvantage in defending their rights,” he says.

Herscu says there have been other significant changes to B.C.’s insurance scheme, noting the province is set to change to a no-fault style system on May 1, 2021. As well, motor vehicle injury claims under $50,000 have moved to the province’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT).

One B.C. injury lawyer has been tracking the stats of CRT decisions involving the ICBC and found that of the more than 30 results for 2020, 97 per cent were dismissed.

“That number is alarming,” says Herscu. “Even if you account for insurance fraud and merciless claims, 97 per cent is extremely high.

“At the end of the day, these wholesale changes are going to have the most impact on those who are hurt in motor vehicle accidents and their lawyers who are fighting for a fair settlement,” he says.

The Easy Legal Group of Companies is a Canadian litigation financing firm. Its lending solutions service the personal injury sector including plaintiffs with pending injury claims, their legal representatives and the service providers involved in their cases. The firm is registered to conduct business in Ontario, B.C., Alberta and the Atlantic provinces. Services are delivered through three brands: Easy Legal Finance Inc., Rhino Legal Finance and Seahold Legal Finance.

Contingency Fee Acceleration Program™ Launch

Rhino Legal has launched the Contingency Fee Acceleration Program, in response to feedback from its lawyer partners.

Its aim is to bridge the financial gap between settled cases and the receipt of pending contingency fees, based on delays caused by COVID, allowing lawyers immediate access to funding to support their businesses.

The application process is fast and efficient, and with the necessary documentation completed and proof of settlement, funding may be received within 24 hours.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION – CALL OR EMAIL:

WE ARE COMMITTED TO CONVERTING SETTLED CASES INTO CAPITAL, TODAY!

1-888-291-4488

ActiveTO a timely, promising initiative for pedestrians, cyclists: Herscu

By Kirsten McMahon

Although messaging from provincial governments COVID-19 is shifting from “stay home” to “stay apart” and portions of the country begin to re-open, pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety should still be top of mind, says Easy Legal Group of Companies President and CEO Larry Herscu.

“The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we go about everyday activities. Life is going to be different and we have to be ready for it,” says Herscu. “That said, being hypervigilant against the virus shouldn’t come at the expense of other, long-standing safety measures.”

With the arrival of better weather after almost two months of being stuck at home, many Canadians are eager to get outside — on trails and bike paths, on the road and in parks. Some essential workers, who would normally take public transit, are opting for cycling. With gyms closed, people are switching to running and jogging to get some much-needed exercise.

“Because people are so heavily focused on avoiding others, they can make snap decisions as they walk, run or cycle,” Herscu says. “An average city sidewalk is too narrow to keep two metres apart, so you frequently see pedestrians and joggers dodging others by moving to bike lanes or onto the road. If you’re not paying attention, this could spell disaster.”

As reported in a recent Globe & Mail column, city dwellers need room to breathe and, with road traffic down amid the pandemic, that space could be reallocated to allow for walking and cycling. The article notes a number of major cities around the world, including Calgary and Winnipeg, have begun to take such steps.

Toronto Mayor John Tory recently announced measures to help residents resume regular routines, pledging to close some roads and improve cycling infrastructure in a bid to let people circulate while observing physical distancing measures meant to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“The plan dubbed ActiveTO is still being developed, but accompanied a shift in messaging from city officials who have begun urging people to move about while keeping their distance rather than staying home as much as possible,” reports Global News.

“We will need more road space for walking, we will need calm streets, we will need more bike infrastructure,” said Mayor John Tory at a news conference.

Herscu says the ActiveTO initiative is promising, but there aren’t enough details yet.“

I’m curious as to how this will play out,” he says. “What we do know is Toronto plans to close 50 kilometres of roads to all but local traffic, but we don’t know which streets would be affected or how the new measures would be enforced. And how does that work with the Ford government’s plans to reopen more businesses over the next few months?

”Your best bet, says Herscu, is to stay safe and injury free by observing the rules of the road — whether you’re walking, running, cycling or driving. “Make sure your bike or car is tuned up and properly equipped. If you’re walking or jogging, stay alert and avoid making any sudden or rash moves.”

“It’s never a good time to get hurt, but now is not the time to end up in hospital. I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating — COVID-19 will make it more difficult to receive the care you may need to get better in the event you are injured.”

The Easy Legal Group of Companies is a Canadian litigation financing firm. Its lending solutions service the personal injury sector including plaintiffs with pending injury claims, their legal representatives and the service providers involved in their cases. The firm is registered to conduct business in Ontario, B.C., Alberta and the Atlantic provinces. Services are delivered through three brands: Easy Legal Finance Inc., Rhino Legal Finance and Seahold Legal Finance.

Easy Legal Finance Inc. acquires Seahold Investments Inc.

Strategic acquisition strengthens market position, as a leading litigation financing firm, servicing the personal injury sector.

 

TORONTO: April 29, 2020 /CNW/- Easy Legal Finance Inc. a Canadian litigation financing firm, announced today, the acquisition of Seahold Investments Inc. Based in Moncton and established in 2000, Seahold Investments Inc. is one of the first firms in the country to offer pre-settlement lending to personal injury plaintiffs.

“We are pleased to add another established and successful firm to the Easy Legal Group of Companies, said Larry Herscu, President & CEO of Easy Legal Finance Inc. This strategicacquisition, in addition to acquiring Rhino Legal Finance in 2018, further demonstrates our commitment to enhance our position as a national litigation lender, with services delivered through strong regional brands, built on a coast-to-coast network of established relationships.”

“Over the past 20 years, we have built a firm based on the merits of access to justice – providing personal injury plaintiffs with the financial support required through the legal process, says Hubert Seamans, Founder and CEO of Seahold. Easy Legal’s reputation for client service is uniquely aligned with ours and I’m pleased to have them further expand our service offering and evolve the firm, for the benefit of our clients and lawyer partners.”

Mr. Herscu also added that, “The Easy Legal Group of Companies will maintain its mission and remain dedicated to helping those who have been hurt, are in need financial support, in partnership with the plaintiff bar and its service providers.

 

About the Easy Legal Group of Companies

The Easy Legal Group of Companies is a Canadian litigation financing firm. Its lending solutions service the personal injury sector including plaintiffs with pending injury claims, their legal representatives and the service providers involved in their cases. The firm is registered to conduct business in Ontario, B.C., Alberta and the Atlantic provinces. Services are delivered through three brands: Easy Legal Finance Inc., Rhino Legal Finance and Seahold Investments Inc.

 

www.easylegal.ca

www.rhinofinance.com

www.seahold.ca

 

For media inquiries, please contact:

Nicole Popovich

647-297-8801

[email protected]

SCC ruling lays foundation for litigation funding as an access to justice tool

Monday, March 30, 2020 @ 9:27 AM | By Larry Herscu for The Lawyer’s Daily

 

The Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision in a corporate insolvency case is the first time the country’s top court has contemplated third-party litigation funding and it’s anticipated that the judgment will provide much-needed guidance for other areas of law, including personal injury.

The top court’s decision in 9354-9186 Québec Inc. v. Callidus Capital Corporation was issued from the bench in late January with reasons to follow. In brief, the SCC looked at whether Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act debtors, whose only assets are litigious claims, need to obtain creditor approval for litigation financing by way of a plan of arrangement.

At trial, the judge ruled that such an approval was not necessary, but a unanimous Quebec Court of Appeal disagreed. While we eagerly await the written reasons, the fact that the SCC reinstated the decision of the Quebec Superior Court opens the door for more creative and accessible solutions for access to justice.

There’s no doubt that it’s increasingly difficult for the average litigant — whether a plaintiff or corporation — to hire legal representation. In Manitoba, legislation was recently introduced to provide more affordable options for legal information and representation while ensuring appropriate public protections are in place.

This speaks to the core of the problem — litigation is too expensive — and third-party litigation funding enables plaintiffs to withstand the length of time it takes their counsel to negotiate fair settlements on their behalf.

Third-party litigation funding is well established in other common law jurisdictions where doctrines of maintenance and champerty existed, such as the United Kingdom and Australia. Not only is third-party funding endorsed by the judiciary and policymakers, but it is also viewed as a vital access to justice tool.

While Canada may be behind some of our common law counterparts, the opportunities for third-party litigation funding are increasing with new lenders entering the market and evolving case law. Besides class action funding, several decisions have led courts down the path of addressing third-party funding and access to justice in personal injury matters.

In 2009, the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick (Bourgoin v. Ouellette [2009] N.B.J. 164) recognized the interest on a litigation loan as part of the plaintiff’s disbursements in a civil action involving a motor vehicle accident.

The judge noted the only option that seemed to be open to the plaintiff “in order to have access to justice, claim his rights and obtain such a considerable settlement, was to get a loan from a financial institution able to support his allowable disbursements for the duration of the action.”

Justice Thomas E. Cyr acknowledged that while the interest rate charged by the funder was high, the institution agreed to finance the case at an elevated risk to itself.

“Seahold Investments Inc. was the institution which agreed to do it, at a very high interest rate, but also at an elevated risk to itself. It must be noted that the Bank of Nova Scotia did not want to take on this risk for a lesser amount,” Justice Cyr wrote.

In 2012, in LeBlanc v. Doucet and the New Brunswick Power Corporation 2012 NBCA 88, the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick allowed the personal injury plaintiff to recover $14,000 in interest on litigation loans used to finance disbursements. At the time of the motor vehicle accident, the plaintiff was a 17-year-old student living with his parents and unable to pay the cost of litigation.

In a 2014 costs decision in National Bank Financial Ltd. v. Potter 2014 NSSC 264, the successful plaintiffs claimed disbursements of more than $312,000, which included over $80,000 in interest on litigation loans.

In 2015, the Ontario Superior Court extended the principles developed in the class action context to single-party commercial litigation. In the matter of Schenk v. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. 2015 ONSC 3215, Justice Thomas J. McEwen considered whether the rules against maintenance and champerty prohibited a plaintiff of limited means from contracting with a litigation funder, who covered all legal fees and disbursements in exchange for a portion of the recovery.

McEwen held that such an agreement was not per se champertous, and there was “no reason why such funding would be inappropriate in the field of commercial litigation.”

As both the case law and attitudes around third party litigation funding continue to evolve, the door is open for more creative and equitable access to justice solutions for Canadian plaintiffs.

As litigation funders and members of the bar eagerly await the SCC’s written decision in Callidus Capital Corporation to provide more clarity and guidance around the rules and regulations surrounding litigation funding, there is no doubt the decision from the bench sets a precedent for access to justice.

Larry Herscu is the president and founder of the Easy Legal Group of Companies, a Canadian legal financing corporation. Its lending solutions service the personal injury sector, including plaintiffs with pending injury claims. Services are delivered through Easy Legal Finance Inc. and Rhino Legal Finance Inc.

COVID-19 Update – Easy Legal Group of Companies: Message from the President & CEO

The COVID-19 pandemic is currently impacting Canadians both, personally and professionally; including our families, business partners and clients.

While we are all doing our part to curb the spread, we appreciate that during these situations, operational expenses can be restrictive and/or limited.

We further anticipate that the insurance marketplace will most likely seize this as an opportunity to delay and/or defer settlements, placing a further strain on your cash flow.

We are here to help.

The Easy Legal Group of Companies (composed of the Easy Legal and Rhino Legal brands) remain committed to working with our lawyer partners during these uncertain times. We are operating remotely to maintain uninterrupted service levels, and as a supplement to our traditional file-specific disbursement loans, we also offer fully-deferred medical legal assessment contracts and lawyer loans to ease the financial burden you may be facing.

We are here to support you throughout, so please reach out with any questions or concerns you may have.

Larry Herscu
President & CEO

The Easy Legal Group of Companies
easylegal.ca
rhinofinance.com

B.C. government faces uphill challenge rebuilding public trust in ICBC

B.C. government faces uphill challenge rebuilding public trust in ICBC

By Kirsten McMahon

British Columbia’s plan to drastically overhaul the government-run Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) requires careful consideration as the results could have significant effects on motor vehicle accident victim compensation, says Larry Herscu, president and CEO of Rhino Finance Inc.

“This sounds quite similar to what the Ontario government did back in the early 1990s when switching to a no-fault system,” he warns. “With that in mind, I think there’s a great deal B.C. can learn from Ontario and the slow, systematic changes and tweaks that have been made since no-fault was introduced in 1989.”

When the B.C. government announced the major changes to ICBC in February, Herscu says he received an influx of calls and emails from concerned stakeholders and those in the industry questioning what these changes will mean.

“Understandably, many people are concerned and wondering whether the government is going to try to make these changes retroactively on any claims occurring now,” he says.

“The good news, at least, is that the B.C. government has said this legislation, if passed, will apply to claims made after May 1, 2021,” Herscu notes.

At the time of the announcement, B.C. Attorney General David Eby said the legislation is a fundamental restructuring of ICBC that will keep car insurance rates low and stable. It’s estimated that the changes will save the average driver about $400, starting in May 2021, Global News reports.

“The no-fault model coverage will also significantly increase the amount of care and recovery benefits available to anyone injured in a crash, providing enough care for a lifetime for those who need it, to a maximum of at least $7.5 million, up from $300,000 today,” the article states.

“The most seriously injured will get even more care and recovery benefits, including a new permanent impairment benefit that will provide financial compensation of up to $250,000,” it continues.

While the legislation appears positive on its face, critics warn a no-fault system will punish young people and will mean those with the worst injuries in crashes will not receive the benefits they need.

Accident victims who still have complaints or disputes about their claim, benefit payments or fairness issues will not need a lawyer to have them resolved, states the government’s press release.

They will have recourse through:

  • the Civil Resolution Tribunal, which is independent of ICBC;
  • the B.C. ombudsperson; and
  • the upcoming ICBC fairness officer, who will be appointed by government to ensure greater independence from ICBC.
Herscu says the changes will restrict how much injured parties can receive in wage losses because they will be based on average earnings of $50,000 per year. As well, stay-at-home parents and students will not be entitled to wage-loss benefits.

Rhino Legal provides financial support to those who have been hurt in an accident while they await a fair settlement and Herscu knows all too well how devastating it can be when someone’s income is reduced, delayed or stopped due to an accident.

“You hope ultimately that your insurer is going to take care of you, but it’s a lengthy process. And if your benefits are exhausted or denied, it’s devastating,” he says.

Even if the province has the best intentions with the new insurance regime, Herscu says the government has an uphill challenge in rebuilding the public’s trust in the beleaguered ICBC.

“I don’t doubt that the government has the wherewithal to implement positive change –– the question is what is it going to look like on paper and in practice,” he says.

“My main concern is that those who have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident get the compensation they deserve as quickly as possible,” Herscu adds.
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