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Posts Tagged "cap"

5Jun

Government defends ICBC cap in response to lawsuit filed by trial lawyers

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Damaged vehicles are seen at ICBC’s Lower Mainland Salvage Yard.


DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The B.C. government is defending its decision to impose a cap on ICBC claims for minor injuries, in a response to a lawsuit filed by the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.

In April, the association sued in B.C. Supreme Court, saying the $5,500 cap on minor injury claims and the establishment of a civil resolution tribunal to adjudicate certain claims were unconstitutional and should be struck down.

The NDP government had passed the legislation enacting the changes last year after declaring that ICBC, which has reported losses of $2.2 billion in the past two years, was in a financial crisis and measures were needed to protect the interests of B.C. drivers and keep premiums down.

The association’s lawsuit argues that the new regulations have the potential to discriminate against people with brain injuries, psychiatric injuries and chronic pain by treating those injuries differently than other injuries.

It said that the scheme would have a “disproportionately adverse effect” upon women, the elderly and persons with pre-existing injuries or other disabilities.

The establishment of the tribunal would create “significant barriers” to access to justice before the superior courts for many claimants, said the suit.

But a response filed in court by the Attorney General’s Ministry emphasized that the substantial increases in ICBC claims costs had jeopardized the Crown corporation’s long-term sustainability and its ability to keep basic insurance rates affordable for drivers.

The ministry denied that the cap disproportionately adversely affects women, the elderly or persons with pre-existing conditions. “The defendants further deny that the minor injury definition includes conditions that have been subject to prejudice and stereotyping, historically or at all.”

Any distinction that the cap may draw among accident claimants is based on severity of injury, not mental or physical disability, says the ministry’s response.

The response defended the establishment of the tribunal, saying that its mandate was to resolve claims within its jurisdiction in a manner that is “accessible, speedy, economical, informal and flexible.”

The tribunal does not create a barrier to access to justice in the superior courts, the ministry said.

“There is no constitutional or fundamental right to have vehicle accident claims determined by a superior court,” it said. “Historically and at Confederation, the superior courts exercised concurrent jurisdiction with inferior courts and tribunals for personal injury claims.

“The minor injury amendments do not impair the core jurisdiction of the superior courts, nor do they otherwise cause undue hardship thereby impeding access to justice for accident claimants to whom they apply.”

No date has been set for a trial.

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26Feb

Death cap mushrooms proliferating in B.C., experts warn

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A “death cap” mushroom.


THE CANADIAN PRESS

The most deadly mushroom on the planet is expanding its habitat in urban and rural areas across B.C. and doctors are now being educated on recognizing the symptoms of poisonings.

Poisonous death cap mushrooms (Amanita phalloides) initially came to B.C. on the roots of European trees like hornbeam, beech, hazelnut, lindens chestnut and oaks. They now grow under mature native trees as well and are putting serious and amateur foragers, children, pets, and others at risk.

Although they won’t start growing under trees for at least another few months, doctors are being cautioned now on ways to recognize the signs of mushroom poisoning to prevent fatalities, serious illness and hospitalizations.

An article in the current B.C. Medical Journal says there is a high risk that doctors will see more and more patients falling ill because the death cap is spreading. That has been borne out by sightings and data collected by the province’s best resource — the Vancouver Mycological Society and the Vancouver Island Mycological Society.

In 2016, a Victoria toddler died after he ate a death cap plucked from the ground in a residential neighbourhood.

In 2008, a 63-year-old Vancouver woman ate an immature death cap after mistaking it for a paddy straw mushroom. In 2003, a 43-year-old Victoria man confused an immature death cap for a puffball. Both those patients recovered in hospital.

Death caps usually grow from June to November. They are easily confused for edible mushrooms, depending on the stage of maturity.

According to the Drug and Poison Information Centre, in 2018, there were 156 individuals who fell ill across B.C. after accidental ingestion of wild mushrooms. There is no specific data for death caps. But the 156 reports represent an increase over the previous year when there were 145 reports. The figures exclude reactions to hallucinogenic mushroom reactions as well as to store-bought, herbal or medicinal mushrooms, all taken intentionally.

Of concern is the fact that most of the individuals who fell ill were children (117 in 2018 and 110 in 2017). Many children and adults were rushed to the hospital.

The article by Maxwell Moor-Smith, Raymond Li and Dr. Omar Ahmad in the B.C. Medical Journal says death caps have become an invasive species in the Pacific Northwest and their spread “has led to cases of morbidity and mortality from ingestion … and an ongoing risk of misidentification.

“Health care providers need to be aware of this risk as prompt recognition and appropriate management are critical for positive patient outcomes.”

Paul Kroeger, co-founder of the Vancouver Mycological Society, said death caps are now growing in the most populated areas of B.C., including parks in the heart of cities. They are routinely seen under Hornbeam trees and Garry Oak trees planted on streets and in parks across Vancouver and Victoria.

Kroeger said he hasn’t heard of any dog poisonings here, but in California, pet deaths have become a major issue.

“Dogs seem to be attracted to them, and the odds of survival are fairly poor.”

Kroeger said mushrooms should always be cooked and restaurants should ensure they aren’t purchasing mushrooms from “backdoor sellers.” There are nearly 20,000 mushroom species in B.C. and most of them are poisonous. Last fall, Kroeger assisted the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in a public information campaign dissuading urbanites from foraging for mushrooms.

“We had a mass poisoning at the police chief’s retirement banquet in 1991. Those were morels, not death caps, but the advice remains the same. There are foragers who overestimate their knowledge and there are also people who think it’s okay to eat whatever is in their path, especially if it’s in their yard.”

The B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association has not heard about the concerns related to the spread of the death cap. But Ian Tostenson, CEO of the association, said he’s grateful for the heads up and said he would communicate the matter to members. “Usually, we rely on Health Canada to let us know when there’s something to be concerned about but in this case, I will alert restaurant members to these articles.”

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Twitter: @MedicineMatters


What to do if you’ve eaten a death cap or other poisonous mushroom

• Symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. Seek medical care.

• Call the 24-hour Drug and Poison Information Centre at 604-682-5050.

• Save the whole mushroom in paper or wax paper (not plastic) and place in fridge for later testing.

• Make a note of where the mushroom was found, when it was eaten and how much was consumed.

• Wear gloves or wash hands after handling.




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13Nov

ICBC says concussions and mental health injuries fall under new claims cap

by admin

VICTORIA — Concussions and mental health problems caused by an automobile crash will be considered a “minor injury” and fall under the new $5,500 cap on pain and suffering, according to new rules set by the provincial government.

Attorney General David Eby signed a cabinet order that declared sprains, strains, aches, cuts, bruises, minor whiplash (including forms called TMJ and WAD), concussions and mental health issues caused by vehicle crashes to be designated minor injuries under new caps that begin April 1, 2019.

The inclusion of concussions and mental health has worried some lawyers and health care practitioners opposed to the cap, who say it can take a long time for symptoms of brain damage, depression or post-traumatic stress to show  and that the long-lasting effects are not minor for those suffering.

In response, the Insurance Corp. of B.C. said it has set special rules for concussions and mental health injuries. ICBC will consider them to become major injuries not limited to the $5,500 pain and suffering cap if they persist for more than four months, said the president and CEO, Nicolas Jimenez.

“The advice we got from the medical community is they are trickier to diagnose and trickier to, quite frankly, treat, so we are better to proceed cautiously and put them on a short time frame,” Jimenez said.

Other minor injuries — whiplash, sprains, etc. — will only be considered major if they are still problems after 2 months.

ICBC cites medical research that indicates approximately 85 per cent of people with mild concussions fully recover within three months.

Doctors of B.C., which represents physicians, was consulted on the timeline and agrees with ICBC, said president Dr. Eric Cadesky.

“When we look at things like concussions, pain and the emotional consequences of a car accident, four months is a good indicator of whether those conditions are going to improve or not,” he said.

The NDP government passed legislation to set the insurance caps earlier this year in an attempt to save more than $1 billion annually from the cash-strapped public auto insurer, reduce the rising costs of claims and prevent ICBC rate hikes. Broken bones and other more serious injuries do not fall under the $5,500 pain and suffering cap.

B.C. was the last province in Canada to have a fully tort-based insurance claims system, frequently leading to lengthy and costly court cases. Disputes over the new caps on pain and suffering claims will first go to a new civil resolution tribunal process that’s mainly been used for strata disputes. People can still sue for such things as the cost of future care and loss of wages.

To compensate for the cap, the government has raised significantly raised the fees ICBC pays for medical treatment, and added kinesiology, acupuncture, massage therapy and counselling to the list of approved services. Drivers at fault in a crash will also get full medical care costs, instead of lesser benefits outlined in the old rules.

But B.C.’s Trial Lawyers Association, which has opposed the cap, said the latest details remain troubling. Even with a four-month time frame for concussions and mental health, the new regulations set a steep definition of “incapacity” that a person will need to suffer to be considered as having a major injury, said lawyer Ron Nairne, the incoming president of the association.

That incapacity definition includes being unable to work, go to school or complete the “activities of daily living” defined in the rules as preparing your own meals, managing finances, shopping, using public transportation, cleaning your home and managing your medication.

“That is so narrowly defined that it will be very difficult for people to escape the definition of minor injury based on that particular provision,” said Nairne.

He said it appears government is trying to set rules that “capture the majority of claims” as minor, and concussions along with mental health should be excluded.

“There’s no such thing as a minor concussion because concussions are a form of brain injury,” said Nairne. “The government is doing the exact opposite, and deeming these to minor injuries.”

Other reaction was mixed.

The Physiotherapy Association of B.C. said Tuesday the changes are a positive step because ICBC is expanding the list of treatment providers and fees to enhance psychotherapy recovery.

But ROAD B.C., an organization that represents some other types of health care providers, said the new definition of minor injury is beyond what most British Columbians would consider fair.

One other change in the new rules set by Eby is that government has dropped a proposal to allow motorists to spend an extra $1,300 a year for additional insurance to get a cap of $75,000 on minor injuries.

“It was an idea,” said Jimenez. “But it’s not something that was embraced and put into our policy framework.

“These are really complicated changes, and I think quite frankly we are proceeding on the basis of get the system change in, and we’ll monitor and evaluate as we go.”

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