REGINA – Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is proposing changes that would make it easier for victims of impaired driving to launch a lawsuit.
As the law sits right now, if you’re injured by an impaired driver, but that person is killed in the crash, then you or your family have no ability to sue for pain and suffering.
The Crown insurer also wants to expand on the charges that driver has to face before they can be sued, such as criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm, criminal negligence causing bodily injury, flight from a peace officer and dangerous operation while street racing.
“The victim couldn’t sue, which didn’t seem fair.” – SGI minister
Don McMorris, the minister responsible for SGI, calls them a “loophole” he’d like to see closed.
“Because they were never charged with impaired, the victim couldn’t sue, which didn’t seem fair,” McMorris said.
In a series of sweeping changes to auto injury coverage, SGI is also updating amounts paid for living expenses to reflect current market rates, and increasing the overall amount available for assistance to people who suffer cognitive impairment.
In addition, SGI plans to end the practice of reducing income benefits by the amount a customer receives through Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability, as well as ensure Tort income benefits maintain pace with minimum wage.
Rosmarie Boxall knows all too well the pain of losing a loved one to a drunk driver. Her husband, John, was killed in a crash in February 2013.
Although the man responsible was found to be impaired, he was convicted of the greater charge – criminal negligence causing death – meaning Boxall had to battle with SGI over benefits owed to victims of impaired driving.
“It was hard. It was frustrating,” Boxall said.
SGI eventually made an exception and Boxall’s case ended up part of a broader review of injury coverage.
From her standpoint, there’s no amount of money to make up for the loss of her husband, but she says it’s important to be able to sue an impaired driver on principle.
“I’m glad and I hope it does help other people because it’s not right.”
The change still won’t help past victims seek additional compensation, however. A crash would have to occur after the new law is in place.
The Sask. Party government plans to introduce this legislation in the fall, though it can’t be passed until after the provincial election in April 2016.Follow @mikemckinnon
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