A Saanich, B.C., man who was paralyzed by a car crash last year is launching a legal challenge against ICBC’s no-fault insurance model, arguing its cap on compensation claims violates his constitutional rights.
Tim Schober was hit by a vehicle while cycling in August 2021. He was airlifted to Vancouver and spent seven months in hospital with a catastrophic spinal injury, which left him a quadriplegic using a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
The 67-year-old says ICBC’s current model, which prevents victims like himself from suing for compensation and limits their benefits to lump sums, is further impacting his quality of life.
“It does not provide an adequate amount of money for my caregiver’s pay, so the amount of care I get has been reduced from what it should be to match what ICBC’s cap is,” he told Global News.
“Under the old system, I would have received a settlement and I would have had autonomy to make my own decisions about care and about therapy and equipment and so forth. But now, each item goes to ICBC and ICBC responds at its discretion, in its sweet time, which is usually not very quick.”
Before the crash, Schober was an avid cyclist who enjoyed staying physically active while working as a lawyer himself and enjoying his family life.
Now, he faces daily challenges with his mobility and personal care. He moves his wheelchair with a sensor controlled through his mouth and requires assistance in most activities, including eating and drinking.
Schober is launching his constitutional challenge alongside the Trial Lawyers of BC, who have long fought against the no-fault insurance model since it was announced in 2020. The model went into effect last spring.
Bill Dick, president of the Trial Lawyers of BC, says the legal process will be lengthy as he and his team gather evidence that will help challenge the legal validity of the legislation.
“It will probably go to the Supreme Court of Canada because of how important it is, so yes it will take some time,” he said.
In a statement, the Ministry of Public Safety defended the no-fault insurance model, which it says has driven insurance costs down for drivers by an average of 28 per cent.
It also insisted British Columbians injured in crashes are receiving “all the care they need, for as long as they need it, regardless of who caused the crash.”
“While we can’t comment on a potential filing that we haven’t seen, government carefully considered constitutional questions in the design of the Enhanced Care model which draws on the experience of other jurisdictions where similar models are in operation,” the ministry said.
No-fault insurance was one of several measures introduced by the province to bring down costs for ICBC, which had turned into what Attorney General David Eby has called a financial “dumpster fire.”
Yet multiple British Columbians have complained they have been left to foot mounting bills under the new system, which doesn’t always compensate claims victims for what they say they are owed.
Schober says his experience is just the latest example that proves no-fault insurance should be overhauled or replaced.
“I think the people of B.C. have been told by the government that the newer insurance scheme is better, but that’s not necessarily true — especially in catastrophic situations,” he said.
“I think people need to know they’ve been sold a bill of goods.”