BC Court of Appeal Dismisses Rear End Collision Negligence Allegations

While there are times when a vehicle that is rear-ended by another can be found at fault for the collision in the usual course of things the rear driver bears full responsibility.  Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Court of Appeal upholding such a finding.

In today’s case (Bains v. Chatakanonda) the Defendant stopped to execute a left hand turn when the Plaintiff rear ended his vehicle.  The Plaintiff’s claim was dismissed at trial with the judge finding her fully at fault for the crash.  On appeal the Plaintiff argued the Defendant should looked in his rear view mirror prior to stopping for his turn and failing to do so was negligent.  In rejecting this argument and upholding the claim dismissal the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:

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ICBC Surveillance Barred From Trial For Late Disclosure

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, ordering that no surveillance evidence is to be used at a trial where the existence of that evidence was not adequately disclosed.

In the recent case (Cavouras v. Moscrop) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages.  ICBC, the insurer for the Defendant conducted surveillance of the Plaintiff and this was not disclosed in a timely fashion in the course of litigation.  The Defendant conceded that they did not intend to use the evidence at trial but the Court, via a trial management conference, concluded it would be appropriate to go further and order that the evidence simply could not be used in these circumstances.

In reaching this decision Master Muir provided the following reasons:

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“Little Weight” Given To ICBC Experts in Three Cases Released Today

The BC government is making more noise about Rule of Court reforms regarding expert opinion evidence in personal injury cases in an effort to save ICBC money.  Their not so subtle message is that Plaintiff’s hire too many experts to prove their claims.  If cases released by the BC Supreme Court today are any guide it is ICBC that is in need of reform when it comes to the practice of hiring physicians hoping to refute collision related injuries.

In three separate cases published today by the BC Supreme Court three separate judges found ICBC hired expert opinions deserved “little weight“.

In the first case (Francello v. Cupskey) the Plaintiff was injured in two collisions.  ICBC retained a physician who provided opinion evidence minimizing the Plaintiffs injuries in connection to the crash.  In finding this opinion deserved “little weight” Mr. Justice Burnyeat provided the following comments:

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BC Court of Appeal Upholds Special Costs Award Against Disability Insurer Despite No Litigation Misconduct

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Court of Appeal finding that trial judges do have authority to award special costs against litigants even in circumstances where no litigation misconduct occurred.

In today’s case (Tanious v. The Empire Life Insurance Company) the Plaintiff was insured with the Defendant.  She became disabled and sought long term disability benefits but the Defendant ‘rejected her claim’.  The Plaintiff successfully sued and was awarded damages along with an order of special costs.

The Defendant appealed arguing the judge was wrong in awarding special costs absent litigation misconduct.  The BC Court of Appeal disagreed and found that in “exceptional cases” such awards could be justified.  In upholding the award the court provided the following reasons:

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Defense Doctor Criticised For “Advocacy” and Requiring Cross Examination to “Ferret Out” Opinions

Adding to this site’s archived posts of judicial criticism of expert witness advocacy, reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, rejecting a defence expert for shortcomings in their opinion evidence.

In today’s case (Soltan v. Glasgow) the Plaintiff was injured in two collisions that the Defendants accepted fault for.  In the course of litigation the Defendants retained an orthopaedic surgeon who provided opinion evidence minimizing the impact of the Plaintiff’s injuries and prognosis.  In finding it “difficult to ascribe any weight” to these opinions Mr. Justice Saunders provided the following critical comments:

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“Troublesome” ICBC Surveillance Practices Come Under the Judicial Microscope

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for injuries sustained in a vehicle collision.

In the recent case (Williams v. Sekhon) the Plaintiff sustained serious and disabling injuries in a 2013 collision that the Defendant accepted fault for.  In the defence of the claim the Defendants insurer, ICBC, conducted a ‘troublesome‘ amount of surveillance into the Plaintiff’s life.  The Plaintiff requested that special costs be awarded for this.  While the court did not go so far as to award special costs Mr. Justice Voith provided the following lengthy comments setting parameters into what is and is not reasonable surveillance:

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Vehicle Owner Found Liable For Crash After Household Member Took Vehicle Without Permission

Reasons for judgment were published last week with an extensive discussion of the principles of registered owner vicarious liability for BC collisions.

In the recent case (Bowe v. Bowe) the Plaintiff was injured as a passenger involved in a collision.  At the time of the crash the Plaintiff took his stepfathers car keys without permission.  They lived in the same household.  The Plaintiff contacted his cousin, who lived in a separate household, and collectively they took the vehicle.  In the course of the evening  the two boys drove around for several hours before the Accident.  Both took turns driving but at the time of the crash the cousin was behind the wheel.

The Plaintiff suffered serious injuries including a moderate brain injury.  A jury found the driver negligent and the plaintiff contributorily negligent.  A question arose as to whether the registered owner bears any liability in these circumstances.

Section 86 of BC’s Motor Vehicle Act establishes vicarious liability for vehicle owners when their vehicle is being driven by a household member or by anyone who acquired the vehicle with the owners consent.  The latter test was not applicable on these facts.  The court was asked whether the household member rule was triggered in these circumstances.  The applicable provision of the MVA reads as follows:

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Speeding Bus Driver Found Faultless for Collision With Moose

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a negligence lawsuit against a bus driver who collided with a moose.

In today’s case (Tran v. Anderson) the Defendant was operating a Greyhound bus on June 22, 2011.  He was travelling above the posted speed limit.  A moose appeared “suddenly out of the foliage to the right of the highway, about 20 feet in front of the bus“.  The Court found that the Defendant had no time to react in these circumstances and even if was travelling at the posted speed limit the result would have been the same.

In dismissing the negligence claim Madam Justice Adair provided the following reasons:

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$86,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Triggering of Symptoms in Pre Existing Degenerative Spine

Reasons for judgment were published today assessing damages for a collision resulting in various soft tissue injuries coupled with the onset of symptoms in a pre-existing degenerative spine.

In today’s case (Ryan v. Lawson) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2014 collision.  The Defendant accepted fault.  The crash resulted in a variety of soft tissue injuries many of which recovered.  THe crash also resulted in the onset of symptoms in a pre-existing albeit asymptomatic degenerative condition in the Plaintiff’s spine.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $86,000 Madam Justice Jackson made the following findings:

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Insurer Hit With $30,000 in Damages for “Mental Distress” For Wrongfully Denying Insurance Benefits

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, finding an insurance company in breach of contract and ordering them to pay, in addition to wrongfully withheld benefits, damages for “mental distress”.

In today’s case (Gascoigne v. Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company) the Plaintiff was insured with the Defendant.  She became disabled in her own occupation and sought benefits.  The Defendant initially approved the plaintiff’s claim and paid LTD benefits for a short period but later took “the position that the plaintiff is not disabled and it has refused to pay further benefits.“.

The Plaintiff produced medical evidence in support of her claim.  The Defendant did not have any independent medical exams contradicting this evidence and instead relied on a medical consultant whose evidence the Court criticized as amounting “to little more than generic opinions unsupported by the evidence”.

In ordering that the Defendant pay damages for ‘mental distress’ for wrongfully denying insurance benefits Mr. Justice Skolrood provided the following reasons:

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Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

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