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Injury claimants ‘left in limbo’

<p>The province announced it will appeal Friday’s court decision that struck down car insurance soft-tissue claim caps, and it doesn’t sit well with those representing claimants.</p>

Province’s decision to appeal car insurance ruling drawing fire




« After careful review, the government firmly believes it’s in the best interest of Albertans to appeal the judge’s decision and apply for a stay.»





The province announced it will appeal Friday’s court decision that struck down car insurance soft-tissue claim caps, and it doesn’t sit well with those representing claimants.



One local injury lawyer calls the appeal ‘preposterous’, and plans to petition the government to leave the claimant door wide open.



Merchant Law Group’s Ajula Satnam, who has been practising injury law for the past 15 years, is in the process of drawing up the petition to stop their province’s appeal.



"I feel that the decision of the court was very well reasoned and it certainly took into complete consideration the rights of claimants who were discriminately affected by the cap in the first place," said Satnam.



"I have several clients who, if the government does go through with this appeal, they’re left in limbo.



"There’s all this concern about rising premiums but no one is really looking at the fundamental and statutory duty of government to consider the rights of the injured persons to seek proper compensation."



At a Calgary campaign stop yesterday, Progressive Conservative leader Ed Stelmach indicated that the government felt it had proper grounds to appeal the decision that declared the $4,000 cap on soft-tissue injuries unconstitutional.



"This is … the balance between those who have been injured as a result of auto accidents and also a system that had to balance costs as well as help those who have been injured," Stelmach said.



"After careful review, the government firmly believes it’s in the best interest of Albertans to appeal the judge’s decision and apply for a stay."



Justice Minister Ron Stevens said that the government would base its appeal on the same arguments it had used in the past. "The point of law will simply be that it’s not unconstitutional," Stevens said.



Both the Alberta Liberal Party and the Alberta New Democrats have said they would investigate the possibility of a public insurance system in order to protect drivers from skyrocketing rates and still protect claimants right to compensation.



New Democrat leader Brian Mason pointed to statistics from the Consumers’ Association of Canada showing rates in Alberta are higher than provinces with public insurance. The NDP leader noted that a public system could save drivers as much as $400 a year.




neil.mackinnon@metronews.ca


 
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