Katie Potts spent 53 days in the hospital last summer after her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel on the Coquihalla Highway.
“We veered off the road, crashed, I flew out of the vehicle, I lost my leg on scene,” she said. The crash severed her leg, part of her hand and left her with life-altering back injuries.
She has had to re-learn to walk with a prosthetic and has had seven surgeries so far, yet she says under ICBC’s new Enhanced Care coverage, her injuries are only considered partly catastrophic.
“They have an algorithm, I don’t know, and $89,000 was the number they came to and I have no idea how,” said Katie’s mother Debbie Herd.
In addition to the lump sum the family says falls far short, they say getting funding for things like prosthetics and prescriptions is a constant battle.
“It’s like they decide what they feel you need or don’t need, they’ll argue to the end that maybe you don’t really need that,” said Herd. “It’s because we’re not ‘lawyer talkers’ they can say things where we’re overwhelmed and it’s if you say so because we don’t know any different.”
It’s on behalf of people like Potts that Saanich laywer Tim Schober has filed a legal challenge of ICBC’s new no-fault insurance. Schober himself became a quadriplegic after being hit by a vehicle on his bike. He says the new Enhanced Care benefits are anything but.
“That’s a lie, the benefits are far less than what were available under the system that the government replaced,” Schober said in an interview with CHEK News Monday.
John Bird was thrown from his motorcycle on a highway near Revelstoke last summer after a kayak flew out of a pickup truck in front of him and hit him straight-on.
“We did CT scans and sure enough I’d broken my neck in two places,” said Bird, who lives in Malakwa.
Yet even though the pickup driver had B.C. insurance, Bird says his claims for Enhanced Care benefits through ICBC have been denied because he has Alberta insurance.
“This is completely unfair, this makes no sense at all, so the guy who causes the accident through his own negligence gets off with a $170 fine and I’m almost crippled now for the rest of my life and I’ve received absolutely zero compensation.”
In a statement ICBC says the new insurance model “provides more affordable auto insurance with significantly improved care, recovery and income replacement benefits,” adding that the old court system meant injury victims often waited many years to receive any money at all and had to pay a portion of it to their lawyers.
“Under Enhanced Care, British Columbians injured in crashes receive all the care they need. There is no need to sue for compensation or worry that benefits will run out since benefits are available for life with no overall maximum limit,” the statement reads.
ICBC says it has received notice of the constitutional challenge filed on behalf of Tim Schober and the Trial Lawyers of BC. and says it carefully considered constitutional questions in the design of the Enhanced Care model.