By Joel Zanatta
As an avid cyclist and a lawyer, the BC government’s move to no-fault auto insurance in this province has me outraged.
What’s the single greatest threat to cyclists? Motorists.
In the 20 years I have practiced law, I’ve represented dozens of cyclists who have been hit by negligent people behind the wheel, and I can assure you “the system” – and ICBC in particular, has not treated cyclists well. But it’s about to get worse.
If a cyclist gets hit by several thousand kilos of moving metal, the injuries they sustain aren’t “whiplash”. Serious fractures and long-term debilitating injuries are an all-too-common reality.
Throughout the years representing cyclists in accident claims, I have had to fight for fair compensation every step of the way. Fair Medical care. Fair bike replacement value. I honestly can’t think of a single time when ICBC voluntarily offered anything close to reasonable compensation for an injured cyclist. And that’s before no-fault insurance.
The move to “no fault” vastly reduces compensation to the injured cyclist. Financial recourse is limited and set by the whims of the government. There are no longer claims for pain and suffering, and more importantly the compensation for income loss will now be set down in a schedule.
The new “maximum” income set by the NDP is $1200 per week. That is the equivalent of $62,000 dollars per year. If you are hit and badly hurt your income benefits are maxed out at $62,000 with no recourse whatsoever. If you can not pay your bills within that $62,000 dollars you will lose everything. What if you have a mortgage? What if you can’t work again? What if you have medical bills that ICBC refuses to pay?
As a cyclist, seeing another rider hurt in an accident breaks my heart. I would be so much happier to be out of business as a lawyer than to have to take people through a battle against a faceless, careless institution that values nothing but its own bureaucracy.
But I represent cyclists, because ICBC cannot be trusted to be fair or even reasonable to cyclists injured as a consequence of a negligent motorist.
And one of the most ridiculous things about this move is that this very government pretended to advocate for a new “Active Transportation” policy that pushed for increased cycling. They urged people to get out of their cars and commute by bike. Then months later they stripped the rights of cyclists vastly increasing the risk that every cyclist takes when they ride on the public roadway.
If I ride in British Columbia, and I am injured, I deserve the right to fair compensation.
If you care about the growth and safety of cycling you must act now. We have to speak out. The move to “no fault” by the NDP is a heavy burden on innocent victims of an at fault driver. Cycling must be excluded from this draconian, one sided “no fault” system. We as cyclists are the most impacted, and the most at risk. Our rights deserve respect.
Cyclists are “vulnerable” road users that need to be protected. Why is it that governments strip our rights to civil recourse, while failing to protect us?
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