Only limited benefits are available under Part 7
Although having insufficient funds to pay for living expenses or medical treatments after an accident can be stressful and frustrating, it is important to understand that only limited benefits are available under Part 7.
As explained on the page describing the difference between Tort and Part 7 claims most British Columbia residents (some exceptions apply) injured in motor vehicle accidents are entitled (if they meet certain qualifying requirements) to coverage under Part 7 regardless of whether they caused the accident. Part 7 benefits (named after “chapter” 7 of the legislation) are a basic level of coverage for wage loss and medical care that the British Columbia government has decided all motor vehicle accident victims are entitled to regardless of fault.
Because these benefits are handed out to most victims, they must necessarily be limited – ICBC could not afford to pay 100% compensation to all injured persons, and also there are also arguments that people will be less motivated to drive carefully if they receive full compensation even if they are at fault for causing an accident.
If an injured person was not entirely at fault for the accident and there is an at fault driver the injured person can sue for damages in a tort claim (see the page describing the difference between Tort and Part 7 claims for an overview of tort claims) then that injured person may get closer to 100% compensation. But, and this can be very significant, the injured person has to wait until their claim is resolved (through negotiation or trial) until they can obtain that compensation. This can be a particular problem if the injured person cannot work and the Part 7 benefits are not sufficient to cover wage loss and medical expenses, especially considering that most personal injury cases take a number of years to bring to resolution. This can be very financially devastating and emotionally taxing for an injured person, especially if he or she was not at fault for the accident but has to live with the consequences of the accident. Taking out loans can be an option, but the interest rates are often very high due to the risk associated with lending money to injured persons who may not be able to work full time, or at all, and may not recover as much as they hope in the personal injury claim.
Although it is often frustrating for injured persons struggling to pay the rent with limited wage loss benefits under Part 7, or to pay for medical treatments with incomplete reimbursement under Part 7 (e.g. physio, psychological counselling, and other expenses are generally not fully covered), one way to look at it is that at least there is some payment under Part 7: persons injured in a slip and fall type accident, medical malpractice, or some other non-motor vehicle type event receive no compensation at all until their claim settles, and persons not at fault but who are victims of the carelessness of a person with no insurance (e.g. pedestrian bit by a cyclist with no money and no insurance) never receive any compensation at all!
In summary, it is a decision that the British Columbia government has made that Part 7 benefits are not designed to provide full compensation, but just a basic minimum amount of support to British Columbians injured in motor vehicle accidents and so claimants should expect to deal with paperwork to satisfy ICBC that Part 7 benefits are justified, and understand that they will not be fully compensated for their wage loss or medical expenses under Part 7, but can claim additional amounts if they have a tort claim, but will have to wait until the tort claim is resolved to receive that additional compensation.
See the benefits available under Part 7 section of the website for more information.
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