With Bill 15 – the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act – having recently passed a second reading, Pace Law Firm’s lawyers are reaching out to MPPs and asking them to fight for accident victims’ rights.
As Toronto Sun writer Alan Shannoff has written, “[T]here’s nothing in the bill that fights fraud in the insurance system. Worse, there’s little in the bill that would protect drivers. Indeed, there’s much in the bill that would harm drivers, especially those injured in auto accidents.”
Stand Up For Victims’ RightsPace Law Firm supports the initiative of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association in attempting to have this bill changed before its third reading and before it becomes law. We ask that you do the same.
Below is a letter which the lawyers of Pace Law Firm are sending to their representatives, in the hopes of a securing a meeting so we can let victims be heard. To contact your MPP to express your concern as well.
Our Letter To Our MPPsDear MPP:I am a member of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, and today I am writing to you about Bill 15, the auto insurance legislation currently before the Ontario Legislative Assembly at the Standing Committee on General Government.While OTLA has welcomed the majority of the legislative proposals in this bill, we have concerns about the following:
1. Ensuring that accident victims have access to the courts and,
2. Setting a fair prejudgment interest rate to ensure timely access to justice
Removing the accident victim’s right to sue is going to lead to duplicated effort and unnecessary costs. Constituents who are injured in auto accidents may be forced to participate in two similar adjudicative processes – one at the Licence Appeals Tribunal for accident benefits disputes, and then a trial involving a Tort claim where the same issues may be litigated a second time, using the same medical experts!
We are asking MPPs to consider a simple amendment that would allow in some circumstances the option of combining a victim’s two separate cases to avoid this needless duplication and added cost. Since the Tort claim must go through the courts, it only makes sense to provide for some flexibility to allow the Accident Benefits case, which deals with identical issues, to be heard at the same time as the Tort issue.
The prejudgment interest rate has historically provided incentive to settle cases in a timely manner. With the interest rate for pain and suffering damages in MVAs reduced from 5% to 1.3%, there will obviously be little incentive for insurers to deal expeditiously with claims for pain and suffering.
Instead, insurers will keep their money in the bank for as long as possible, make additional income from their investments, and starve out innocent plaintiffs.
Currently, insurance companies make 3% on their investments, and therefore they can expect to earn at least 1.7% profit holding on to an innocent victim’s compensation for damages for every year that they put off settlement. It’s really just simple math.
In the wake of this legislation, we are further concerned about the Ministry of Finance’s proposal to enact a similar drastic interest rate reduction on overdue or denied Accident Benefits. That proposal, while not part of Bill 15, is obviously part of the broader insurer-driven agenda to cut costs at the expense of the accident victim.
I would like to schedule a meeting to discuss OTLA’s concerns.
I urge you to raise these concerns with the Minister of Finance and with your colleagues in the Legislative Assembly.
Please let me know if you can accommodate a meeting prior to Bill 15’s third reading.