Important Changes to Small Claims Court affecting Motor Vehicle Accident Claims

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Changes to the way many disputes arising from motor vehicle accidents are resolved by BC courts take effect April 1, 2019. The BC Supreme Court still deals with vehicle accident claims larger than $50,000, but many claims for up to $50,000 related to injuries caused by vehicle accidents must now be taken to the online Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT).

The Provincial Court of BC continues to deal with civil law disputes involving vehicle accidents in certain circumstances. This eNews outlines what Provincial Court may still deal with under the new laws.

Claims that must be taken to the CRT as of April 1, 2019
The CRT website describes their new accident claims jurisdiction as: “…making decisions on the following matters relating to motor vehicle accidents, where there is disagreement between the customer and the insurance company:

• The entitlement to receive accident benefits;
• The classification of an injury as a minor injury; and
• Liability and quantum decisions for motor vehicle injury claims up to $50,000.”

Matters the Provincial Court may deal with as of April 1, 2019

Generally, the Provincial Court of British Columbia’s Small Claims Court may deal with claims related to motor vehicle accidents in these circumstances:

1. Accidents occurring before April 1, 2019
The Provincial Court continues to hear any cases involving accidents that occurred before April 1, 2019 where the claim is for $5,001 to $35,000.

2. When CRT refuses to resolve the claim
The Provincial Court may hear accident claims for up to $35,000 that are within the CRT’s jurisdiction if the CRT decides not to give an initiating notice, declines jurisdiction or refuses to resolve the claim.

3. When Provincial Court orders an exemption
As in CRT small claims matters, parties may apply to have personal injury accident claims for up to $35,000 exempted from the CRT in certain circumstances set out in section 16.2 of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act.

4. Enforcement of a CRT order or decision
A negotiated consent order or final decision of the CRT for up to $35,000 may be filed with the Provincial Court for enforcement. Once a CRT order is filed with the Provincial Court, it has the same force and effect as a Provincial Court judgment, and may be enforced using the same procedures.

5. Stay or dismissal of Provincial Court proceedings
Sections 16.1 and 16.3 of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act set out circumstances in which a Provincial Court judge must stay or dismiss certain matters in a proceeding that are within the CRT’s jurisdiction.

6. Certain provisions of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act
The Provincial Court also continues to have jurisdiction in claims under these sections of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act:

• section 18 (2) (financial responsibility in other provinces);
• section 42.1 (offence);
• section 68 (relief from forfeiture);
• section 77 (2), (8) and (9) (rights of insurer);
• section 78 (payment of insurance money into court); and
• section 79 (defence if more than one contract).

These changes to the law involve several BC statutes and regulations. If you have suffered an injury in a motor vehicle accident you may wish to consult a lawyer about your options.

Civil Resolution Tribunal Act
NP 17 Changes to Provincial Court Civil Jurisdiction (CRT Accident Claims)

This eNews provides general information only and should not be used as legal advice.