Bill 171 will continue to protect injured parties from insurers reducing benefits
March 18, 2014
On March 4, 2014, Bill 171 (An Act respecting insurance system reforms and repair and storage liens) had its first reading in the Ontario Legislature. The Bill proposes to move disputes pertaining to Statutory Accident Benefits ("SABS") from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to the Licence Appeal Tribunal.
There are other changes that will be of interest to injured parties and their representatives if this Bill is enacted:
- An injured party will only be able to pursue SABS disputes in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice if it is an appeal from the Licence Appeal Tribunal's decision or an application for judicial review;
- Regulations may be enacted which will allow the Licence Appeal Tribunal to make cost orders against a representatives to pay costs personally or to make orders to pay amounts outside of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule; and
- Pre-judgment interest on non-pecuniary damages (damages for pain and suffering) will be set at the Courts of Justice Act pre-judgment interest rate as a result of Bill 171. The current Courts of Justice Act pre-judgment interest rate is 1.3% while the current pre-judgment interest rate for non-pecuniary damages is 5%. This raises the question as to how this will increase access to justice for injured parties if Bill 171 is enacted and the Courts of Justice Act pre-judgment remains at its current rate; insurance companies may find little incentive to settle files sooner with such a low pre-judgment interest rate consequences.
Bill 171 will continue to protect injured parties from insurers reducing benefits awarded to an injured party after the Licence Appeal Tribunal has released its decision. Benefits will only be reduced if the injured party agrees to the reduction, the insurer has been successful in appealing a decision from the Licence Appeal Tribunal, or the insurer has been authorized to do so by the Licence Appeal Tribunal.
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