The B.C. government has changed its court rules to limit the number of expert witnesses that can be used in injury lawsuits against the Insurance Corp. of B.C.
Attorney General David Eby said Monday the new rules align B.C. with changes made in other provinces many years ago. The move comes days after ICBC announced it is facing another deficit of more than $1 billion by the end of the fiscal year March 31.
Lawyers are bringing as many as six experts or their reports into court to speak on issues such as future wage loss and future medical care, while ICBC generally only uses two, he said. Some of those experts provide “expensive medical reports about people they have never met or examined,” Eby said. “It doesn’t advance any interest to have six-plus experts on a claim.”
Under the new court rules, which take effect immediately by cabinet order, parties will be able to use one expert and report for claims of less than $100,000, which the ministry is calling “fast-track claims.” Up to three experts and reports are allowed for all other claims. Judges will still have discretion to permit additional court-appointed or jointly agreed experts to give evidence.
B.C. is not considering going to a no-fault insurance system, and the adversarial court method is being retained, he said. More changes that take effect April 1 will cap pain and suffering claims and divert minor injury claims to an administrative tribunal.
Those changes will affect about 80 per cent of injury claims, and have sparked a legal challenge from the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., arguing the court’s independence is being affected.