VANCOUVER – Vancouver cyclist Gary Kalmek suffered a broken leg, broken arm, and three broken ribs when he was hit by a car while riding a bike on Main Street and 15th Avenue in Vancouver in early June.
After several operations and a week-long hospital stay, the 38-year-old library technician assumed he would be compensated for the pain and suffering.
ICBC pays its medical bills and lost wages, but under the province’s new “no guilt” model, which went into effect May 1, most accident victims can no longer sue the guilty driver and insurance company.
“It definitely feels like there should be compensation,” Kalmek said. “I ride my bike, I also do sports. As much as I try to be optimistic about my healing, if I limp for the rest of my life, if I cannot raise my arm above a certain height for the rest of my life, then these things will be taken away from me. “
Manjot Hallen, a Vancouver-based personal injury attorney, says his law firm receives a lot of calls from accident victims like Kalmek.
“ICBC will treat his and other injuries like minor injuries and say, ‘Look, you are not eligible for pain and compensation for pain and suffering,'” Hallen said. “And while we as lawyers get these calls and sympathize with the victims, there is nothing we can do about them. We cannot defend ourselves. “
Removing attorneys from the mix is the main consideration in moving to a flawless insurance model.
“Legal costs were certainly a factor in the previous insurance system,” said ICBC spokesman Brent Shearer. “With improved care, by largely eliminating these legal costs, we can take that money and put it back into improved care and recovery benefits and lower auto insurance (premiums) for everyone in British Columbia.”
Shearer added that BC drivers, on average, save more than 20 percent on their premiums compared to the old model.
But Hallen argues that the compromise isn’t worth it.
“People get a small discount on their insurance, whether it’s 10 or 20 percent, but they find that they don’t get any compensation in car accidents,” said Hallen.
Although Kalmek is not being compensated for his injuries, he has been told that the driver who hit him will have to pay higher insurance premiums.
“It just felt like betrayal that ICBC was just trying to get more out of (the accident),” he said.
Kalmek hopes to be able to ride a bike and do sports again one day. He is currently free and walks with a stick. He has permanent scars on his leg and shoulder and a metal rod, plates and needles in his body.
“Even if I heal, these things will be a reminder of what happened and a reminder that ICBC is also ignoring the scars and the plates and everything else that happened to me,” Kalmek said. “It just feels terrible.”