Canadian Lawyer

May 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 37 of 59

36 JAMES CUMING is looking west from Calgary with a fair bit of trepidation these days. The personal injury lawyer and managing partner at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers is watching the likely implementa- tion of a no-fault auto insurance regime in B.C. and a push for a similar move in Alberta. He thinks such a policy could be disastrous for personal injury lawyers and their clients. Many personal injury lawyers in B.C. and Ontario share Cuming's disdain for the no-fault system. They told Canadian Lawyer the impact these systems have had on their practice and how they've had to adjust. They warn personal injury lawyers in jurisdictions such as Alberta with a full-tort system to get ahead of a possible change and engage with the public, telling them why they think a no-fault system might make things worse if they have an accident. "In a no-fault system like B.C.'s, if an impaired driver runs over a child on a cross- walk, they both get the same benefits through an arbitration process," Cuming says. "The overall justice of it is removed from the equa- tion; the checks and balances are removed from the equation." No-fault insurance varies slightly between jurisdictions, but it broadly means that, in most car accidents, victims won't have to litigate to win damages. The proposed new system for B.C. has yet to be approved by the legislative assembly. In that system, the Insurance Corporation of B.C. will pay all parties involved directly based on their own arbitration process rather than having lawyers battle it out in court. If it is approved, the system will take effect May 1, 2021. The stated goal of the system is to reduce insurance premiums and allow quicker access to benefits through ICBC's tribunals. According to one B.C. personal injury lawyer, though, it means that, in severe cases, plain- tiffs won't have legal recourse to get more than what the ICBC decides they're entitled to get. Alberta personal injury lawyers are mobilizing to stop a move to no-fault auto insurance, as B.C. follows Ontario in implementing one in the province, writes David Kitai The fight against no-fault LEGAL REPORT PERSONAL INJURY

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