BC Court of Appeal – No Reverse Onus in Bus Driver Liability Claims
There are a line of cases suggesting that once a plaintiff passenger establishes that he or she was injured while riding on a public carrier, a prima facie case of negligence is made out.
Today reasons were released by the BC Court of Appeal finding this is not so.
In today’s case (Benavides v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was awarded damages after being injured on a bus. At trial the Court found the driver was negligent. On appeal the BC Court of Appeal noted that the trial judge was wrong in finding there is a reverse onus in such cases however upheld the result on the basis that there was sufficient evidence to establish driver negligence.
The BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons setting out the principles of liability:
 I draw from this review of the law the following principles:
· The mere fact that a passenger is injured while riding on a public carrier does not establish a prima facie case of negligence.
· The plaintiff bears the burden of proving on a balance of probabilities that the defendant breached the standard of care owed to the plaintiff.
· Once the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case of negligence, in practical terms the burden shifts to the defendant to answer the case against him and to show that he was not negligent.