A North Vancouver man is living with debilitating concussion symptoms following a serious vehicle collision, but he says because of the province’s “no fault” insurance regime, he can’t get the care he needs.
Farnoud Chamanian was a student and house inspector when he was T-boned in August 2021 by a driver who ran a red light. Beyond the soft tissue and disk injuries that make it painful for him to stand, walk and work, Chamanian now has daily headaches, memory loss, tinnitus and changes in his personality.
“After that accident, I lost all of it. I lost my full-time job, I lost my girlfriend, I lost my friends, people that were close to me,” he said.
ICBC’s adjuster approved coverage for Chamanian to have treatments with a chiropractor, massage therapist, physiotherapist, kinesiologist and acupuncturist, however, he’s had almost two years of back-and forth trying to get treatment approved for his concussion symptoms.
Being at the mercy of adjusters has been “hell,” he said.
“It’s indescribable,” he said. “I’ve got depressed. I’ve got anxiety over this.”
In a statement, ICBC acknowledged Chamanian’s struggles and laid out the care he has received so far.
“We understand that Mr. Chamanian is going through a challenging time since his crash in August 2021. We will continue to support him in his recovery and ensure he receives all of the benefits available to him under Enhanced Care,” the statement read. “To date, we have funded $20,335 in medical and rehabilitation benefits for Mr. Chamanian including 253 treatments.”
The reason Chamanian’s request for concussion treatments haven’t been granted is that his symptoms appear to have set in six months to a year after the crash and differ from his original diagnosis, according to the public insurer.
Chamanian said that was an “outright lie” and provided a diagnosis from his own family doctor from early October 2021 confirming he had a concussion. As recently as March, he sent the adjusters a recommendation from a Vancouver-based concussion clinic that he receive an assessment from their team including a neuropsychologist.
ICBC says they have requested Chamanian’s medical records to confirm that his symptoms stem from the crash and that they were willing to fund vestibular therapy, in the interim, to treat his concussion symptoms.
ICBC has given him more than $6,000 in income replacement, but without substantial improvement in his health, Chamanian feels he will need permanent impairment benefits.
B.C. lawyers speak up
The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. is holding Chamanian’s frustrating case up as an inevitable consequence of ICBC’s Enhanced Care model that came into effect in 2021, taking away the rights of motor vehicle collision victims to sue for treatment.
“Lawyers can’t take on clients who are in motor vehicle accidents anymore because there’s nothing they can do for them,” said Shawn Mitchell, spokesman for the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C, adding that most British Columbians don’t realize how limited their options are until they find themselves in need of help from ICBC that they cannot get.
Mitchell said there are enough cases Like Chamanian’s going public now that the government should see the need to reconsider no-fault insurance or Enhanced Care.
“Injured British Columbians were being awarded what they were entitled to under the law and that injured party would pay their lawyer accordingly,” he said. “What’s changed is people’s ability to be made financially whole on the other side of their injury. That’s all gone.”
ICBC counters, however, that that under the old model, a lawsuit would have been time consuming and costly with no guarantee Chamanian would receive more care or better compensation.
Meanwhile, Chamanian is left exasperated.
“I want to get concussion treatments and try to keep whatever I have left of myself, try to have a better future for myself with them actually helping me recover,” he said. “Is that not what insurance is meant for?”