Vancouver Island lawyer injured in crash takes on ICBC over no-fault insurance

A Vancouver Island man who suffered life-changing injuries in a crash three years ago says the province’s no-fault insurance system is letting him down.

Tim Schober was cycling to his job as a high-profile business lawyer when he was struck by a vehicle illegally exiting the Pat Bay Highway in August 2021.

The province’s new Enhanced Care insurance system, which bars crash victims from suing and directly covers medical treatments instead, came into force just three months prior.

Click to play video: 'Business owner decries ICBC no-fault insurance after work van written off'

Business owner decries ICBC no-fault insurance after work van written off

“I was one of the first catastrophically-injured people under the new system, if not the first,” Schober said.

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“ICBC itself has just been learning to work through the system. I have been the guinea pig for a lot of the new procedures they have developed, it has been very time-consuming and very stressful and has consumed an inordinate amount of my time.”

The crash left Shober quadriplegic with a C4 spinal cord injury. He has virtually no sensation or muscle control below his armpits and limited use of his arms or hands.

Schober said he’s been nearly unable to work since the crash. He says he’s also forced to constantly do battle with the public insurer under its new rules.

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“I have to justify everything that I want or need medically to them, and I am fortunate that I have a wife who is capable of dealing with them because it uses an enormous amount of time and energy,” he said.

He’s also forced to deal with caps on certain treatments, along with ICBC payments that don’t always cover the full cost of some therapies.

He contrasted that to the old system, which would have allowed him to hire a personal injury lawyer to manage his claim and to secure a cash settlement permitting him autonomy over his treatment and equipment needs.

Click to play video: 'Woman frustrated with ICBC compensation after being hit in Surrey driveway'

Woman frustrated with ICBC compensation after being hit in Surrey driveway

He’s brought a civil claim against the province in B.C. Supreme Court, alleging the Enhanced Care system discriminates against individuals based on the cause of their disability.

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The B.C. government has maintained that the province’s former insurance system, where people injured in crashes sued for damages, clogged up courts and drove up legal costs, with insurance ratepayers picking up the tab.

Under the new system, insurance rates have remained steady.

“The beneficiaries of the old system were lawyers, it was not drivers, who paid double-digit increases every year, and it was not people injured in crashes who paid 30 per cent of their award that was supposed to pay for their care for the rest of their life in legal fees, at least,” Premier David Eby said on Thursday.

Despite that, Eby acknowledged there may be issues with the no-fault system that still need to be worked out.

He said the province had committed to fully reviewing the system after five years, and it was constantly making smaller adjustments when issues were identified.

Click to play video: 'Injured businessman slams no-fault insurance'

Injured businessman slams no-fault insurance

“Of course issues have come up with the new system as we move forward that we had to address, issues around pedestrians and cyclists and other pieces, as we put the new model in place,” Eby said.

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“We have addressed those issues, but there might be others, so by doing that review we will be able to close any additional gaps that may be in place.”

Schober said everyone appreciates low car insurance rates until they are the ones seriously injured and requiring constant care.

He said he hopes the province is taking the concerns of people like him seriously.

“I have heard from so many people with a range of injuries who are having trouble with their care,” he said.

“I hear from people who have had head injuries and their ability to cope with the new system is really compromised and they have no ability to hire lawyers and get help, they are on their own dealing with ICBC.”

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