Global News: Grieving relatives of fatal crash victim question ICBC no-fault policy, lack of death benefits

As seen on Global News by Darrian Matassa-Fung & Julia Foy, 25th August 2022.

The family of 58-year-old Aleida Nyman said the woman lived her life as an angel.

“She wanted to be a help to everybody,” said Diana Pineda, Aleida’s daughter.

“She had a love for people and specifically for orphans.”

Aleida Nyman and Mario Reyes died in a car crash on the Surrey-Langley border on Aug. 6.

“He had a very boisterous personality, he was very outgoing,” said Harold Chavarria of Reyes, his friend.

On top of dealing with grief, Nyman’s family was surprised to learn that ICBC is not offering any immediate settlement for her death.

According to the family, that’s because she was not married, had no dependent children and was on income assistance.

“(ICBC told us) to send documents, to do (our) part, and (ICBC) will see if (they) can maybe do something to help,” said Diana Pineda.

Lawyers said the new ICBC No-Fault insurance policies do not treat everyone’s death the same.

ICBC offers different enhancement care rates for working adults, over others.

“If the person who is killed is not a breadwinner and does not have financial dependents – there are virtually no damages available,” Donald Renaud, a lawyer with the Wrongful Death Law Reform Society, told Global News.

“If you’ve lost an elderly parent, or a young child, really those claims are worth nothing (in terms of compensation) and we often have to tell people in those terrible situations that that’s just the way the law is,” said Kevin Gourley, a B.C. lawyer.

ICBC declined a request for an interview but did supply a statement.

“Crashes involving a fatality are covered under Enhanced Care, which provides benefits for funeral expenses, grief counselling, and payments to immediate family,” ICBC staff said in an email.

“Enhanced Accident Benefits minimum payment to family is $68,863. For dependent’s (19 or under) of a deceased, payments range from $32,708 to $61,680 depending on the dependent’s age at the time of the deceased’s death.”

It is unclear why the family is not receiving compensation for the death, as the policy states there should be. Global News has reached out to ICBC for further clarity.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help cover the cost of Aleida’s funeral, which is planned for Sept. 1.

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About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of ‘The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – a BC registered non-profit organization comprised of volunteer families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.

As a result of the province’s antiquated law, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the negligent or intentional acts of another.

BC is presently the last of all the provinces, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.

When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in terms of incentivizing innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.

Here’s How You Can Get Involved…

The Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, is responsible for the modernization of BC’s wrongful death laws. Our Society provided David Eby with the drafted ‘Wrongful Death Accountability Act’ when he was acting as the Attorney General for British Columbia for 6 years between 2017-2022. The new Attorney General, Niki Sharma, also shares responsibility as she is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the current guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Sharma receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, David Eby, who is ultimately responsible for modernization.

Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.

The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the public and the media will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.

How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?

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