(File photo)

British Columbians injured in motor vehicle accidents will now look towards Canada’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) to help resolve injury claim settlements, starting today.

The move is set to save ICBC a significant amount of time and cost in legal fees and is expected to bring quicker resolutions to injury claim settlements.

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“As Canada’s first online tribunal, there’s no office or courthouse,” said ICBC in a release. “Instead of getting dressed up for court, you can work on it from home on your smartphone. You can still hire a lawyer to help you out, but the CRT online portal was designed to be easy enough for someone to file a claim on their own.”

Starting April 1st, the CRT will now handle all injury claim disputes valued at $50,000 or less and can determine responsibility for a crash, entitlement to accident benefits, and whether the injury is “minor” or not.

Meanwhile, the payout cap for “minor” injuries has been lowered to $5,500.

Instead of a single judge ruling over a settlement, tribunal members will work with both parties in a settlement to make binding and court enforceable decisions.

The province says where parties can’t agree, the tribunal can make binding decisions that are enforceable as court orders.

“Improving access to justice is the heart of our work and what motivates us every day,” said Shannon Salter, chair of the CRT. “We are looking forward to taking on this expanded role and helping British Columbians resolve these disputes without the time, stress and expense of going to court.”

BC is the last province in Canada to place a cap on minor injury compensation.

The province says that the new changes to ICBC will help save the corporation more than $1 billion a year.

Here are the new steps on how to file a claim:

  • Start by using the CRT’s Solution Explorer, which will help with an initial analysis of your dispute and offer free legal information/tools. You have up to two years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
  • If the Solution Explorer does not provide the options you were looking for, you can submit an application. You will have to pay an application fee and provide evidence to support your dispute.
  • The CRT will then work with both parties to reach an agreement. If no agreement is made then a Dispute Notice will be given to all parties (which includes ICBC if injuries are involved) and a tribunal member will make a decision based on the arguments and evidence.
  • All decisions made by the CRT are binding and enforceable. People unsatisfied with the final decision can refer it to the Supreme Court of BC for judicial review.

More information on the CRT and how to file a claim can be found online here.