A class-action lawsuit claiming ICBC diverted benefits away from crash victims and into other government agency pockets will go ahead, following an April 22 court certification.
First filed in the B.C. Supreme Court in March 2020, the $900-million lawsuit alleges ICBC and the B.C. government used portions of accident victims’ benefits to pay for their visits to medical practitioners. The suit argues under provincial laws, medical visits should be covered by the Medical Services Plan (MSP), and not paid for by ICBC.
Those funds should have instead gone straight to the crash victims to be used at their discretion, the lawsuit states.
Williams Lake man Brayden Methot is one of the representative plaintiffs. He became paralyzed from the neck down after being a passenger in a car crash in 2014.
ICBC told him he had reached the limit of his accident benefits, $150,000, in April 2015. Methot later learned $3,709.43 of that total was never sent to him, but rather diverted to MSP to cover some medical expenses.
Following the filing of the lawsuit, ICBC sent an apology to Methot admitting it had sent part of his benefits to MSP in error. It sent him a cheque for the missing amount, but Methot chose not to cash it and continued with the lawsuit, according to court documents.
ICBC said it has a policy that MSP payments cannot be diverted from accident victims’ benefits. According to affidavits from the Crown corporation, it has since found 275 instances where the policy appears not to have been applied correctly.
The full extent of the diverted funds is not yet known, but class action lawyer Scott Stanley said he believes 275 is an underestimate.
Those behind the class-action also argued that the diversion of funds resulted in pushing up insurance rates for all other B.C. drivers, however this aspect of the lawsuit was not certified.
In an emailed statement, ICBC said it is reviewing the decision on the accident class, and is pleased by the lack of certification on the ratepayers class.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General reverted comment to ICBC.