Insult to Injury lawyers want insurance review hearings pushed back

A group of lawyers representing the rights of accident victims have filed a court application to push back the province's insurance review

PUB says final report must be issued by June 30, but lawyers question why the rush

Valerie Hynes is a St. John's lawyer whose firm represents many clients who have been injured in vehicle accidents. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

A group of lawyers representing the rights of accident victims have filed a court application to push back a major step in the province's insurance review.

Valerie Hynes, who represents a group of lawyers dubbed Insult to Injury, says they have not been given enough time to properly argue their case against a cap on pain and suffering payments.

The lawyers received the last of eight massive reports on April 30, she said, and hearings at the Public Utilities Board (PUB) are slated to begin on June 4.

Hynes said the lawyers still don't have a schedule for the hearings and are still trying to line up experts to take part.

"We have to fly people in," she said. "We need further details."

After filing an application with the province's appeals court, the lawyers will now wait for a date to speak before a judge. With only three weeks before the hearings begin, the judge's decision could come down to the wire.

A car and motorcycle collided on Topsail Road. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

The PUB has said it must file its final report to the provincial government by June 30. Hynes is concerned the board will only have a week or two to finish its report once the hearings wrap up.

"This could impact everybody, whether you agree with us or not," Hynes said. "This cap that they are proposing or considering, or changing the deductible coming or doing these different things — this could affect everyone in Newfoundland."

The PUB and Service NL began a review of the province's auto insurance industry on April 9, marking the first official examination of provincial rates since 2005.

Hynes said a crucial part of both of those reviews is a closed claims study — a detailed look at insurance claims that have been handled over a specific timeframe.

In 2005, Hynes said it took nine months to complete that review. This time around, they did it in five months.

"When you have less time, you have to skip certain steps," she said. "But it's not just that. All of this is being rushed through."

The Public Utilities Board declined comment, saying it does not speak about ongoing issues.