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ICBC Not Allowed To Withdraw Admission of Fault Late in Litigation

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, considering a request to withdraw a formal admission of fault for a vehicle collision in the deep stages of litigation.

In today’s case (Bodnar v. Sobolik) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2014 collision.  He sued alleging the Defendants were at fault.  ICBC, the Defendant’s insurer, admitted fault in the course of the lawsuit.  As the trial progressed the Defendants retained an engineer who viewed video of the crash and concluded “the speed of the plaintiff vehicle as 74 km/hr in a 50 zone“.  Based on this the Defendants sought to withdraw the admission of fault.  In refusing the request the Court noted the litigation was mature and it would not be in the interests of justice to allow it.  In dismissing the application Mr. Justice McEwan provided the following reasons:

[13]         The Notice of Civil Claim was filed October 11, 2016. The Response to Civil Claim was filed January 12, 2017, formally admitting liability. On May 30, 2017, Mr. Bo Baharloo assumed conduct of the file.

[14]         ICBC clearly understood the material contained on the video footage. The admission was not made hastily, inadvertently and without knowledge of the facts. Successive adjusters worked on the file and gave instructions to admit liability with full knowledge of the video footage. At the time liability was admitted ICBC had the video footage. The defendants had been aware of the existence of video footage when they were provided with a copy. The preparation of a report on September 28, 2018 was well after ICBC and defence counsel had both received a copy of the video footage.

[15]         At this late stage both cars have been written off and are no longer available for inspection.

[16]         It is not in the interests of justice to allow a withdrawal of the admission of liability because there is now a difference of opinion about the cause of the accident.

[17]         The application is dismissed. In saying that I say nothing about contributory negligence or whether it is possible to plead or amend the pleadings to raise the issue.

[18]         I should say that I have considered the cases Boyd v. Brais, 2000 BCSC 404 and Miller v. Norris, 2013 BCSC 552 as nearest to the present situation.

[19]         The application is dismissed with costs to the plaintiff.

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