Canadian Underwriter

Alberta trial lawyers launch Charter challenge against province’s automobile insurance minor injury cap

April 1, 2007   by

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The Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA) has officially started its Charter challenge of the Alberta government’s automobile insurance minor injury policy in the Court of Queen’s Bench (Calgary) before Mr. Justice Neil Wittmann.

ACTLA President Arthur Wilson, Q.C. says in a press release that the association wants the court to determine whether the minor injury policy contravenes Section 15 of the Charter, which prevents discrimination against a group of people based on disability.

Wilson said the trial, which started Apr. 10, is expected to last five weeks, with a decision likely this fall.

At issue is the policy that sets a ceiling of $4,000 on the amount of damages courts can award for soft-tissue injuries incurred by the victims of automobile collisions.

“It is our association’s contention that this ceiling unfairly discriminates against victims of automobile collisions because it separates a distinct group of people and treats them differently from others who have also had the misfortune to be injured through no fault of their own,” Wilson said. “We have seen too many cases since the government changed its policy in 2004 where victims have suffered and will continue to suffer because of the current situation.”

Wilson said his association agrees with the province’s right to make the rules around automobile insurance or any other matter, but adds that the Canadian Constitution states those rules must take into consideration the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The reason our legal system works so well is because one group can make a decision and another group can straightforwardly question or challenge that decision,” Wilson said. “The system recognizes that there are no cookie-cutter solutions.

“It is our duty as responsible members of the legal profession to help ensure government policies are based solidly in law and applicable to all Albertans.”

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