The Provincial Government enacted Bill 41: the Insurance (Enhancing Driver Affordability and Care) Amendment Act (“Bill 41”) in 2020. In early 2022, the changes brought on by Bill 41 came into effect. These changes have the ability to greatly impact your personal injury claim. The following are the top 3 ways that Bill 41 has changed the personal injury landscape.
Direct Compensation for Property Damage
The change that received the most media coverage is the Direct Compensation for Property Damage. Previously, the at-fault driver’s insurance company would be responsible for paying any property damage to the not-at-fault driver. This typically meant repairing their vehicle and replacing any damaged contents.
After Bill 41 came into force, a not-at-fault driver makes a claim for property damage to their own insurance company. This can greatly speed up the process for reimbursement and will not result in an increase in premiums if the other driver was 100% at fault. However, insurance companies will now look at the value of your vehicle when issuing insurance policies, which may result in higher premiums for higher value vehicles.
Bill 41 limits the number of expert witnesses that can be called at trial. This is a change that has the potential to negatively impact a personal injury claim.
If your claim is less than $100,000.00, you are now limited at trial to calling one expert witness to deal with injuries sustained in the accident. If your claim is more than $100,000.00, you are limited to three expert witnesses. The number of experts that can be called may be increased by consent of all parties, or upon application to the Court.
This change was likely made in an attempt to lower the costs to insurance companies in going to trial. However, it can greatly impact the damage award that an injured party may receive. If someone’s injuries are complex and involve many different parts of the body, there may be a need to have a number of experts to testify about the injuries. This is especially the case when injuries include brain trauma or aggravation of existing injuries.
Although more experts may be agreed to by consent of all parties, it is unlikely that defense counsel will agree to the same. It is unclear as of yet how the courts will treat applications to increase the number of experts or what the test will be to do so.
Previously, interest was automatically awarded on general damages at 4% from the date of the accident. Bill 41 has now applied the Judgment Interest Act rates to general damages. Over the past five years, Judgement Interest Act rates have been between 0.2% (current) and 2.2%. This means that interest on a $100,000.00 claim has decreased from $4,000.00 per year to $200.00 per year currently. As a result, an insurance company that delays matters will not incur much in the way of financial penalty.
In addition, interest will only start to run once a statement of claim has been commenced, or notice has been given to the defendant’s insurer, whichever happens first. Therefore, it is important to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident so proper notice can be given.
Being involved in an accident is stressful and the rules and regulations around the insurance industry are constantly changing. Contact one of the personal injury lawyers at Stillman LLP to assist in navigating and to help you get the compensation you deserve.
By Shannon Kinsella
Note: This article provides general commentary and is in no way intended to replace the need to consult with a legal professional concerning the specific circumstances of your situation. This article should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice.