Changes to the CRT’s jurisdiction over motor vehicle injury disputes re: minor injury and liability determinationsApr 13 2021
In April 2019, the NDP government enacted legislation that imposed a “cap” on damages for what it considers to be “minor injuries” in motor vehicle accident claims at $5,500 for the pain and suffering component of most soft-tissue injury claims.
At the same time, the new legislation declared that exclusive jurisdiction in determining what constitutes a “minor injury” would rest with the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), and within the small claims jurisdiction. This essentially meant that the courts in British Columbia, presided over by judges, would have no jurisdiction to hear such claims.
Tribunal members, generally mid-level lawyers (not judges) with varying amounts of experience, were appointed by the government for two-year terms. These were, effectively, political appointees.
On March 2, 2021 the BC Supreme Court decided that part of the CRT’s jurisdiction over motor vehicle injury (MVI) disputes are unconstitutional. In particular, sections 133(1)(b) and (c) of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act (CRTA) are unconstitutional and no longer in effect.
What the CRT cannot decide:
For motor vehicle accidents that happened on or after April 1, 2019, the CRT cannot decide:
- if an injury is a “minor injury” for the purposes of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act; or
- claims for liability and personal injury and property damage of up to $50,000.
The court also decided that section 16.1 of the CRTA does not apply to these two areas. Previously, this section required the court to dismiss or to stay a claim filed in court that related to either of these areas so that it could proceed at the CRT instead. As the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia (TLABC) has pointed out, this ruling now ensures your right to access a court if ICBC makes an incorrect decision affecting your rights. It does so by declaring that the government cannot give the power to decide accident claims to its own online tribunal.
What the CRT CAN still decide:
For motor vehicle accidents that happened on or after April 1, 2019, the CRT can decide
- whether a person is entitled to accident benefits under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act; and
- small claims motor vehicle accident disputes for damages up to $5,000
How this WILL impact existing MVI disputes:
The CRT is currently reviewing how the court decision will impact existing MVI disputes. If your existing, unresolved dispute involves a minor injury determination and/or a claim for liability or damages, the CRT will “pause” the dispute for now. CRT staff will be in touch with parties once more information becomes available.
Where to file your MVI dispute moving forward:
Minor injury determinations and/or damage and liability disputes
As of March 2, 2021, the CRT will not issue dispute notices for MVI claims involving minor injury determinations or liability or damage disputes. This means that if you believe ICBC has wrongly categorized your injuries to be minor and/or that you were at fault for an accident, it is your right to access an independent Court to resolve the dispute.
Accident benefit disputes
The CRT continues to have jurisdiction over disputes about an injured person’s entitlement to accident benefits. If you have a dispute about your entitlement to accident benefits, you can file an application for dispute resolution with the CRT.
Small claims MVA disputes $50,000 and under
The CRT continues to have jurisdiction over small claims motor vehicle accident disputes for damages up to $5,000. You can still file an application for dispute resolution with the CRT for these disputes.
Where TO go from here:
As the TLABC also pointed out, the Court’s declaration of unconstitutionality has provided a check on the government’s ability to create its own tribunal to decide claims against ICBC, while at the same time affirming the historic right of accident victims to pursue remedies for their injuries before the courts.
If you are injured in a car accident, and ICBC is suggesting to you that you may fit within the “minor injury” designation or that you are at “fault” for the collision and you disagree, do not hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for some advice.
At RDM Lawyers, we have been helping injured victims of car accidents in British Columbia for almost 50 years and have a team of experienced professionals available to help you.