Why Are Accident Victims in Alberta Consistently and Repeatedly Subject to Discrimination by our Government?

I can write a book on this topic but will restrict this post to inflation. Throughout my career, since 1998, I have had to advise my clients who have been injured by a drunk driver who left the seen (in hit-and-runs) that, no matter how devastating their injury, there is a Fund that all of us pay into called the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF).

I have also had to deal with insurance companies who have limits issues while collecting premiums in an unbridled manner and never-ending greed and whining to the government, which almost invariably bows to their every desire. Unreal. Disgusting, actually.

The MVCF It acts as an insurer to cover victims of unknown drivers or uninsured drivers (who probably cannot afford to pay the ever-growing premiums insurers charge). It carries a maximum of $200,000 per accident.

That sounds like a lot, but consider the situation where a mom with 5 children in a mini-van is struck from by an impaired driver carrying 3 passengers in a catastrophic highway crash, resulting in fatalities. You have 8 plaintiffs (and their estates), each with catastrophic injuries or death, having to somehow divide $200,000 or an average of $25,000 each.

This limit has remained the same for at least 4 decades–since the 70s to my understanding, and certainly throughout the entirety of my career. It has not gone up to even account for inflation, let alone the 4-5 fold increase in the cost of living in Alberta since the 70s.

Anomalous? Not at all.

Want more proof? In Alberta, every automobile is required to carry ONLY $200,000 as a minimum in insurance. This has been the case for at least 3 decades. Our premiums have skyrocketed in those decades yet insurers are only on the hook for that same $200,000 maximum. 30 years ago, $200,000 would buy you 2 average homes in Alberta. $200,000 today is nowhere near the same.

Inflation has infiltrated every sector and aspect of our market economy: food, drugs, fuel, housing etc. But NOT insurance obligations and compensation for victims. Why the 2nd class treatment for victims of impaired and negligent drivers?

Norm Assiff

Norm Assiff

Norm was awarded the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA) President's Award for 2012--awarded to a member of the Alberta bar who has distinguished himself or herself by his or her contribution to the profession or the community, the advancement of the law or their service to ACTLA. He has appeared at all levels of court in Alberta (Provincial Court, Queen's Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeal) as well as the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Federal Court of Appeal.

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