By David Machat
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, you are entitled to certain benefits. This article is to assist you to understand your rights, even if you caused the accident.
Under the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation(B.C. Reg. 447/83) (the “Regulation”), benefits can be obtained by persons injured in a motor vehicle regardless of who caused the accident. Family members of persons killed in an accident may also be entitled to benefits. These benefits are often referred to as accident benefits, no-fault benefits, or Part 7 benefits. These benefits include:
- medical and rehabilitative benefits (both mandatory and permissive);
- disability benefits for employed persons (that is, to contribute to wage loss while a person is disabled from working);
- homemaker benefits; and
- death benefits (funeral expenses and other benefits for survivors).
The Supreme Court of British Columbia has found that Part 7 benefits are intended to allow a person involved in a motor vehicle accident relatively quick and inexpensive access to, among other relief, nominal compensation to offset some portion of income loss resulting from the accident.
April 2019 Changes to Part 7 Benefits
Much has been made and said about the 2019 changes to auto insurance in BC, but little has been said about the increases to Part 7 benefits. In February of 2018, the British Columbia Provincial Government announced changes, effective April 1, 2019. The changes include:
- an increase in weekly wage loss benefits from $300 to $740 per week;
- increase in homemaking benefits from $145 to $280 per week;
- an increase in the lifetime allowance for medical care and recovery costs for those catastrophically injured from $150,000 to $300,000 (this change has already taken place);
- increases in funeral cost coverage from $2,500 to $7,500; and
- death benefits from the range of $17,580 to $30,000.
Additionally, reflecting a new emphasis on ‘care and recovery’, the Part 7 benefits will see increases in amounts covered for treatments and in the range of treatments covered. Currently, general practitioners, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and chiropractors are covered. As of April, kinesiology, acupuncture, counselling, and massage therapy will be added to the list of treatments pre-approved for treatment. ICBC will also pay the full costs of treatment up-front.
Benefits of Retaining a Lawyer
Like all things insurance related, there are hidden complexities and challenges to Part 7 benefits. For instance, the Regulation outlines situations where ICBC may deny someone making a claim, including where:
- the injury or death did not arise as a result of “the use or operation of a motor vehicle”;
- the dominant cause of the injury or death was the use of a vehicle as weapon;
- the injured individual does not meet the definition of an “insured” under the regulation;
- the driver of the vehicle was not authorized and qualified by law to operate the vehicle;
- the driver was operating the vehicle for an illicit or prohibited trade or transportation,
- the injury occurred in attempting to escape or avoid arrest or similar police action; or
- the driver was hurt in a race or speed test.
While the possibility of being denied a claim is the most obvious source of headache, it is not necessarily the only one, let alone the most common. For instance, restrictions on coverage may arise, unexpected deductions may be made because benefits are being paid out from other sources, or proper claim procedure is not followed. ICBC may also challenge whether the need for the treatment or time off from work was caused by the accident injuries or from other causes. A lawyer can navigate you through these and other issues that may arise when obtaining Part 7 benefits and can fight for your Part 7 entitlements.