Interior Health suing 4 patients from 2014 Coquihalla tour bus crash for unpaid medical bills | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior Health suing 4 patients from 2014 Coquihalla tour bus crash for unpaid medical bills

A tour bus is badly damaged and many people injured following a crash on the Coquihalla Highway Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.
Image Credit: Adam Hopewell via Global News
September 09, 2020 - 12:42 PM

Three Chinese nationals and an American citizen are being taken to court by Interior Health over nearly $400,000 of unpaid medical bills following a tour bus crash on the Coquihalla Highway in 2014 where all 56 people on board were injured.

The Interior Health Authority filed the individual lawsuits in B.C. Supreme Court in Vernon Aug. 11 and 14. All four of the suits claim the victims have outstanding medical bills after being hospitalized following the crash. The tour bus was returning to Vancouver from a tour of the Rocky Mountains when it flipped into a ditch.

The August 2014 Coquihalla Highway crash, which took place roughly 30 kilometres south of Merritt, made headlines after all 56 people aboard the tour bus were injured, some critically. One passenger at the time told reporters there was "blood everywhere" as people were thrown from the bus.The recently filed court documents state three Chinese citizens, Wei Ping Wu, Min Feng, Xiu-Ying Yang, and American Cindy Chang Wong, were all taken to Kelowna General Hospital after the coach crash.

The defendants in the case spent between two and six weeks in Kelowna General Hospital. The notices of claim state none of the defendants are beneficiaries of British Columbia's Medical Services Plan.

The total cost of medical care for all four of the crash victims totalled $578,845, although some of the bills have been paid. Interior Health still seeks $382,154 yet to be paid.

Feng has the largest outstanding bill at $149,021. The notice of claim gives detailed descriptions of her hospital stay, including three nights in the intensive care unit at $9,545 per night, followed by almost six weeks in hospital at $3,045 per day. The bill also lists surgery, emergency room costs, rehab visits, and a $52 wrist splint, among other expenses.

The court documents say Yang had to have a finger amputated after the crash. Interior Health says she has $44,376 left to pay from her initial bill of $135,050.

While the court lists large sums outstanding, all four of the crash victims have had some of their bills paid either by ICBC, their own private insurance companies, or both. None of the court documents say why ICBC, or their private insurance, did not cover the full amount of the hospital bills.

Wu's daughter, who was a minor at the time of the crash, is also named in the suit, but the court documents state ICBC fully covered the daughter's costs, paying Interior Health $67,631.

In the case of Yang, ICBC paid Interior Health $26,000 in October 2015 followed by $40,000 in April 2017. Yang's private coverage TIC Travel Insurance paid $25,000 to Interior Health in June 2018.

The court documents say all four of the defendants have launched a civil suit claiming damages as a result of the injuries they received in the crash. Court records show a suit was launched against the Ministry of Transportation in August 2016.

Following the crash, B.C.'s transportation minister said the incident was likely caused by driver error as the RCMP had said speed and mechanical failure had been ruled out.

The court documents say Interior Health does not know the current medical condition of any of the four, and each notice of claim lists an overseas address for the defendants.

None of the defendants have yet filed a response to the claim. The claims have not been proven in court.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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