A new law is being introduced in Saskatchewan that will give families of those killed by a drunk driver the chance to file a lawsuit.
Minister responsible for SGI Don McMorris brought in the legislation, which includes 20 amendments in all to The Automobile Accident Insurance Act. He had previously announced these changes were coming.
One of the biggest changes is when an impaired driver causes a crash and dies, the family of the victim or an innocent party can now sue the estate of the driver that was killed for pain and suffering or bereavement damages.
Crimes triggering a lawsuit will now be expanded to include criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm, criminal negligence causing bodily injury, street racing, or flight from police.
These changes will impact those with no fault, reduced no fault or tort insurance coverage.
Changes to SGI’s auto injury coverage programs were proposed after consultations throughout 2014 and 2015. Stakeholders, representatives from the medical, legal and insurance communities, SGI employees, and the public all provided input.
Two previously-announced recommendations will not go forward this year:
- Updating amounts paid for living expenses to reflect current market rates, increasing the overall amount available for assistance to those with cognitive impairment and implementing a process to regularly review the amounts for alignment with market rates (no fault coverage).
- Ending the practice of reducing income benefits by the amount a customer receives through Canada Pension Plan disability (no fault coverage).
McMorris said they aren’t abandoning those recommendations entirely, but the cost associated with them is too great for now, estimating it would be between $53 and $63 million in the first year with an extra $8 million each year after that.
“That’s a huge cost … we’re not going to back away from it but at this point as a financial decision [we are] not able to move forward with it,” he said.
The law is expected to be passed during the fall session and be implemented Jan. 1, 2017.