Date Issued: December 24, 2020
Type: Motor Vehicle Injury
Civil Resolution Tribunal
Indexed as: Godwin v. Bui, 2020 BCCRT 1462
REASONS FOR DECISION
Andrea Ritchie, Vice Chair
1. This is a preliminary decision of the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) about whether the CRT should refuse to resolve the applicant’s request for a minor injury determination.
2. The applicant, Jonah Godwin, commenced a claim for a minor injury determination at the CRT against the respondent, Jameson Bui. Mr. Godwin and Mr. Bui were involved in a motor vehicle accident on May 2, 2019 in Langley, British Columbia. Mr. Bui was injured as a result of the accident, and has initiated a liability and damages claim against Mr. Godwin at the British Columbia Supreme Court (BCSC). In this CRT dispute, Mr. Godwin is asking the CRT to determine whether Mr. Bui’s May 2, 2019 accident injuries are “minor injuries” as defined by section 101 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act (IVA).
3. Mr. Godwin is represented by legal counsel, Harmonie Roesh-West. Mr. Bui is also represented by legal counsel, Cody Wagner.
JURISDICTION AND PROCEDURE
4. These are the CRT’s formal written reasons. The CRT has jurisdiction over motor vehicle injury disputes, or “accident claims” brought under section 133 of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act (CRTA). Section 133(1)(b) of the CRTA gives the CRT jurisdiction over the determination of whether an injury is a minor injury under the IVA.
5. Section 2 of the CRTA states that the CRT’s mandate is to provide dispute resolution services accessibly, quickly, economically, informally, and flexibly. In resolving disputes, the CRT must apply principles of law and fairness, and recognize any relationships between parties to a dispute that will likely continue after the dispute resolution process has ended.
6. Section 39 of the CRTA says that the CRT has discretion to decide the format of the hearing, including by writing, telephone, videoconferencing, email, or a combination of these. Here, I find that I am properly able to assess and weigh the documentary evidence and submissions before me. Further, bearing in mind the CRT’s mandate that includes proportionality and a speedy resolution of disputes, I find that an oral hearing is not necessary in the interests of justice.
7. Section 42 of the CRTA says that the CRT may accept as evidence information that it considers relevant, necessary and appropriate, whether or not the information would be admissible in a court of law. The CRT may also ask questions of the parties and witnesses and inform itself in any other way it considers appropriate.
8. The issue in this preliminary decision is whether the CRT should refuse to resolve Mr. Godwin’s request for a minor injury determination.
REASONS AND ANALYSIS
9. Both parties provided written submissions on the preliminary issue, which I have considered in making this decision.
Should the CRT refuse to resolve this dispute?
10. Before the May 2, 2019 accident with Mr. Godwin, Mr. Bui was involved in two prior motor vehicle accidents, one on March 6, 2014 and one on May 7, 2015. These two prior accidents are undisputedly the subject of proceedings at the BCSC. Mr. Bui argues his injuries from all three accidents overlap and are indivisible from one another.
11. As noted above, the issue before me in this preliminary decision is whether I should refuse to resolve Mr. Godwin’s request for a minor injury determination for Mr. Bui’s injuries related to the May 2, 2019 accident. Mr. Bui argues that the CRT should refuse to resolve this dispute, so it may be heard at the BCSC with the other two actions, along with the liability and damages aspect arising from the May 2, 2019 accident. Mr. Bui says the issues are so intertwined with the other actions that it would be impractical for the CRT to make any minor injury determination in this dispute. Mr. Godwin essentially agrees that all the matters should be heard together at the BCSC.
12. Under sections 133(1)(b) and 133(2)(a) of the CRTA, the CRT has exclusive jurisdiction over the determination of whether an injury is a “minor injury” for the purpose of the IVA.
13. Section 115 of the CRTA says that where the CRT has exclusive jurisdiction, it has exclusive jurisdiction to inquire into, hear, and determine all those matters and questions of fact, law, and discretion arising under the CRTA or required to be determined by the CRT under the CRTA.
14. Under section 16.1(2)(a) of the CRTA, if a party alleges a matter in a proceeding before the court relates to whether an injury is a minor injury, the court must stay the court proceeding until the CRT makes a minor injury determination. Under section 16.1(1)(a), if the only matter before the court is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the CRT, the court must dismiss the entire proceeding. There is no discretion for a court to decide to hear a minor injury determination because, as noted above, minor injury determinations are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the CRT.
15. Mr. Bui raises the factors to consider when assessing whether court proceedings should be tried together. However, that is not the issue before me. The parties have agreed to hear the liability and damages claim related to the May 2, 2019 accident at the BCSC, not the CRT. For all intents and purposes, the three accidents’ damages claims are already being heard together. However, the BCSC does not have jurisdiction to hear the minor injury determination dispute, only the CRT does.
16. In considering all of the above, because the CRT has exclusive jurisdiction over minor injury determinations, I decline to refuse to resolve this minor injury determination dispute. Therefore, the dispute will continue through the CRT’s process. Nothing in this decision prevents the parties from coming to an agreement about whether Mr. Bui’s injuries resulting from the May 2, 2019 accident are minor or not.
Andrea Ritchie, Vice Chair