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Limiting medical expert testimony in ICBC cases unconstitutional: B.C. Supreme Court

Last Updated Oct 24, 2019 at 4:50 pm PDT

ICBC claims centre sign (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – New limits on the testimony of medical experts in crash-related court cases have been overturned by the B.C. Supreme Court.

The decision by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson finds restricting testimony to three experts introduced in February by the province violate the judicial process.

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Ron Nairne, President of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., says people have a constitutional right to present all the relevant evidence necessary in court.

“Ultimately, what this rule would have done, it would have disproportionally harmed the people with the most serious injuries. Those are the people that need more experts in order to prove all of their harms and losses,” he says.

“Not all is apparent to those that aren’t involved in the legal process, but in order to prove a significant injury, you need more than just a family doctor: you need specialists.”

Attorney General David Eby says he hasn’t decided if this ruling will be challenged.

“Given that other jurisdictions, United Kingdom, Australia have either outright banned adversarial witnesses or limited them to just one, why BC couldn’t do three is difficult to understand,” he says.

RELATED: Government to be taken to court over new ICBC rules

He is sticking by claims changes made in February reduce insurance costs, but he’s no longer suggesting savings would be at least $400 million a year.

“We’ll have to have a look to see what the actual financial impact will be for ICBC and for the province,” he says.

He still believes this will lead to faster settlements and heavily reduce ICBC court costs, but Finance Minister Carole James says it’s too early to say how much this decision may impact the budget this year because some contingency funding is available.

The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. took the government to court earlier this year arguing some changes violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

– With files from Liza Yuzda