Can I Request a Virtual Trial for My ICBC Claim During the Pandemic?
After a car accident—particularly a major accident that caused serious injury—it can be challenging to get the medical support you need and the compensation you deserve. Unfortunately, COVID-19 temporarily ground things to a halt, making personal injury claims even more challenging. Many treatment options were unavailable, and Court operations were suspended, including all trials. The good news is that BC Courts have since adapted to the “new normal,” and both in-person and virtual options are possible for hearing ICBC claims.
ICBC Trials Temporarily Suspended Due to COVID-19
Most serious personal injury claims are heard in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. On March 19, 2020, all regular operations of the Supreme Court of British Columbia were suspended to protect health and safety and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Several ICBC trials had to be adjourned as a result. To keep matters moving, the BC Supreme Court began offering alternatives to in-person attendance (e.g., an appearance by teleconference or remote video conference using Microsoft Teams) for steps leading up to trials, such as Judicial Case Conferences, chambers matters, and Trial Management Conferences.
Resumption of In-Person ICBC Trials
In-person civil trials resumed in early June 2020, with restrictions. Anyone attending a BC courthouse in person is subject to screening and must follow health and safety protocols, including social distancing and face masks. Another important restriction is that jury trials are currently unavailable. Trials scheduled to be heard before October 8, 2022, will automatically proceed by judge alone, regardless of whether a party filed or served a notice requiring trial by jury or paid jury fees. Unless the Court otherwise orders, adjournments will not be permitted because a party wants their case decided by a jury.
Requesting Virtual Appearance at an ICBC Trial
At this point, in-person attendance for trial is the default, but Judges, masters and registrars have the discretion to direct otherwise depending on the circumstances. Trial Management Conferences (“TMCs”) should be used to address issues with the ability to attend court in person. TMCs are currently proceeding by telephone unless the Court otherwise orders. If any person is reluctant to attend for trial in person due to health-related concerns or other reasons related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Court is unlikely to require that person to attend. Requests for alternative options should be made at the TMC. Depending on the circumstances, options may include giving evidence by affidavit or testimony by telephone or videoconferencing.
Talk to an ICBC claim lawyer about trials during COVID-19
The measures discussed above are subject to change, and the Court’s ability to hear ICBC trials will continue to be subject to developments during the COVID-19 pandemic. To get the most up-to-date information and determine how your personal injury action may be affected, reach out for advice from an experienced ICBC claim lawyer. Abbotsford, Surrey/Delta, Burnaby and Vancouver office appointments are available, as are teleconferences and virtual meetings. In addition, we offer free legal consultations for ICBC claims.