The car accident claims system in British Columbia has changed. Prior to the change, you could proceed to court if you disagreed with a payout offered by an insurer after a crash. Now, however, the Civil Resolution Tribunal system applies. This new way of handling claims was introduced to reduce the number of disputes handled in the courtroom. If you’ve been in an accident, it’s crucial to understand how these changes could impact the compensation you receive for your crash-related injuries and losses.
Why the Car Accident Claims System is Changing in British Columbia
The ICBC sets the goal to put people first, solve disputes out of court, and offer fair settlements. The majority of claims are settled outside of court in an efficient manner. For the small percentage that are not, the claims can become time-consuming and costly. In some cases, people may wait up to three years to go to trial. This is all while they’re dealing with medical bills, time off work, and pain and suffering. In order to expedite the claims process, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) has been introduced.
Additionally, according to the ICBC, the legal fees they incurred as a result of the old car accident claims system contributed to significant financial loss – adding up to a quarter of their yearly expenditures. The new system also attempts to reduce those costs.
Understanding the Civil Resolution Tribunal System
The Civil Resolution Tribunal is an online system that’s typically used to resolve minor civil and strata disputes. Now, claims for car accidents involving minor injuries and pain and suffering payouts are handled under this system.
If you file a claim with an insurer and disagree with their findings or settlement offer, you’ll no longer file a lawsuit and head to court. Instead, the CRT will review your claim and make a determination. You’ll also proceed to court if you can prove your injuries do not fall under the definition of minor. Additionally, CRT has jurisdiction on all motor vehicle crash claims up to $50,000. Claims exceeding that amount can proceed to court.
Types of Disputes CRT Can Resolve
Depending on the auto wreck you’re in, there may be a number of matters that need to be resolved. The new system separates those matters into different dispute categories, which include:
- Accident Benefits. These benefits cover medical and rehabilitation expenses, disability for homemakers, income or wage replacement, and funeral or survivor benefits. The CRT determines who should receive benefits and how long they should continue. If there’s a dispute that only involves benefits, fault doesn’t matter.
- Damages. The damages CRT covers include things like pain and suffering, past and future wage losses, future care costs, and out-of-pocket expenses. Things that are already covered by accident benefits are not included. CRT can resolve damage disputes up to $50,000. Damage claims are based on fault.
- Fault. CRT can determine who was at fault for the accident. This only matters when damages are being sought.
- Minor Injury Determination. If someone was fully or partially at fault for an accident, minor injury determination applies. If CRT determines the injury is minor there may be a limit on how much a person can claim for damages.
How to File a Car Accident Claim with CRT
After a car accident, you need to inform your insurer. If, after you supply them with the required documentation, they deny you benefits, you can make a claim with the CRT. While you can file a CRT claim at any time, there is generally a limitation period of two years. You’ll file the claim against the person or entity you believe caused your accident. It’s important to note that there will be an application fee. The amount depends on the value and type of claim.
If your accident happened prior to April 1, 2019, your claim will be filed under the CRT’s small claims jurisdiction. The most you can claim from CRT is $5,000. If the accident happened on or after April 1, 2019, the claim can be filed under CRT’s new motor vehicle accident jurisdiction.
Accident victims can claim benefits if the crash happened within Canada or the USA. Even if you were responsible for the wreck, you can claim benefits. There are some instances where you may be denied benefits. If the accident happened while you were working, if you breached a condition of your insurance, or if you were driving uninsured, you may not be eligible for recovery.
In order to claim accident benefits, there are a number of documents you’ll need to provide. Within the first 12 weeks after the crash, you can claim a number of pre-authorized treatments like acupuncture, physiotherapy, kinesiology, and registered clinical counseling without medical documentation. But you’ll need a note or report from your family doctor or a walk-in clinic or hospital for other treatments. Expense receipts may be sufficient.
If you’re looking to claim income loss benefits, you’ll need to provide proof of income for the year prior to the wreck and a medical opinion that you can’t return to work. You’ll also need to supply a medical opinion if you’re seeking homemaker benefits.
Legal Representation Matters
The Civil Resolution Tribunal System poses significant changes for British Columbia citizens when it comes to making decisions and taking action after a car accident. At Wishart Brain & Spine Law, we understand that when you’re dealing with crash injuries the claims process can be intimidating. You might feel even more overwhelmed with how new the system is.
Under CRT’s accident claims jurisdiction, you are automatically allowed to be represented by a lawyer. Once the tribunal process has begun, however, no court litigation is allowed. This is why it’s crucial to get in touch with us immediately following a wreck. We can manage the claim for you and work to ensure your losses are covered. If you have questions about the new system and how it could impact your car accident claim, schedule a free consultation with our lawyers today.