Cridge Centre: ICBC changes pose serious risk to brain injury survivors

Our member organization Cridge Centre for the Family issued a news release today on the significant impact that some of the ICBC policy changes this week will have on survivors of brain injury.

April 2, 2019

Online-only ICBC appeals shut out survivors of brain injury

Changes announced to ICBC policy this week will come at significant cost to people who suffer a brain injury in a car accident, says the manager of Brain Injury Services at The Cridge Centre for the Family.

The very nature of brain injury will make it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for people to be able to advocate for themselves after a car accident now that the only way they can do that is online, says Geoff Sing.

“With new ICBC policies requiring people to do everything online, people with serious brain injuries are essentially being denied the right of appeal,” says Sing, whose program provides housing, community supports and job training for survivors of brain injury.

“Sitting in front of a computer screen trying to complete multiple online forms can be an impossibility for weeks, months or for a lifetime after a major brain injury.”

The Cridge Centre also has grave concerns that accidents deemed “minor” are to be capped at a $5,500 maximum award. As brain-injury specialists, researchers in community social services, the medical profession and BC universities know well, a collision that looks minor in terms of no blood, broken bones or major damage to a vehicle can still cause a major brain injury that can alter the course of someone’s life – dramatically and permanently.

These ICBC policies are extremely worrying given that brain injury annually afflicts more people than all cases of multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, HIV/AIDS and breast cancer combined, notes Sing. A significant number of those injuries happen due to car accidents.

It’s flawed thinking to presume there will be any saving of taxpayers’ money by denying essential supports to people who suffer brain injuries in car accidents, he adds.

“Without proper interventions and support, survivors of brain injury can end up without the ability to work, to remain in a stable family situation, or even to stay housed,” says Sing. “The risk of harmful substance use increases. All those problems end up costing our government and British Columbia overall far more than would sufficient supports after a collision.”