Mu v. ICBC, 2020 BCCRT 432

As discussed in our previous posts, the Civil Resolutions Tribunal (or CRT) is an administrative tribunal originally established by the BC government in 2012 to handle disputes between strata councils and property owners. In 2019 the jurisdiction of the CRT was significantly expanded by the NDP Government to include determining when a person is entitled to ICBC no-fault or Part 7 benefits.

ICBC Part 7 benefits are available to anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident in British Columbia as long as they are an “insured” person. An insured person includes anyone who is the owner of an ICBC-insured vehicle and members of their household, any licensed BC driver and members of their household, any person who is an occupant of a ICBC insured vehicle, or a pedestrian or cyclist who is stuck by an ICBC insured vehicle. These benefits can included medical benefits to pay for treatment and disability benefits to off-set a person’s wage loss caused by an accident.

An individual’s right to pursue ICBC for Part 7 benefits expires 2 years from the date ICBC last paid benefits to a person. That means if an individual suffers a flare-up in their injuries, which is quite common, they could be denied the treatment of wage loss benefits they need.

Prior to the CRT taking over jurisdiction of Part 7 benefits, a common practice with the Supreme Court of BC was for a placeholder action to be filed in order to preserve an individual’s rights to access benefits at a later date if such a flare-up should occur. Recently in Mu v. ICBC, 2020 BCCRT 432, the CRT had to consider if they would allow this practice to continue.

The claimant in Mu was not actively seeking treatment and filed a dispute notice with the CRT since they had exclusive jurisdiction over Part 7 benefits in order to preserve their right to access benefits at a later date. The claimant contested that the filing of the dispute notice as a placeholder was consistent with the pre-April 1, 2019 practice that the Supreme Court had always accepted. Since the CRT jurisdiction is the same as that previously held by the Supreme Court, the claimant argued the CRT should respect and follow the same practice.

The CRT disagreed and found that a dispute could not be filed as a placeholder. While this is only the first CRT decision on this matter, it may set a disturbing precedent that will serve to prevent individuals from getting the benefits they need when they need them.

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