A story is making the rounds that holds some sobering lessons for British Columbia crash victims.
If you get run over by a careless driver and the police don’t pursue criminal charges your rights are gone. That’s right gone. Your right to sue, your right to pain and suffering, your right to proper damages are gone.
This week a driver ran over four people. The police provided a media statement seemingly minimizing the wrongdoing of the driver referring to them as ‘impatient’. It is unknown if charges are being pursued. But if they are not the victims of the crash will receive some harsh news. Their rights to be fully compensated for their injuries will be gone as well.
Mounties in Mission B.C. say four people participating in a walk Saturday for reconciliation on Lougheed Highway were hit by a truck being operated by what police describe as an "impatient driver." https://t.co/qrlatxRNb6
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) June 5, 2022
How can this be? Here’s the ugly truth –
The BC no-fault scheme takes away victim rights to sue at fault drivers for all crashes after May 1, 2021. Section 116(2)(f) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act then carves out an exception for criminal drivers. So if you can prove that the driver that injured you was committing a crime at the time you can sue them right? Nope. It takes more than just that and its out of your hands. Not only do they need to be committing a crime (from a very narrow ‘prescribed’ list) they need to be convicted of that crime. This means that
- after a crash the police need to attend
- After gathering evidence the police must conclude that a prescribed criminal charge is warranted (the police have many options to charge motorists with provincial offences instead of criminal charges. In fact the majority of the time when police conclude charges are warranted this is exactly what they do even for drunk and otherwise impaired drivers!)
- Crown counsel must then conclude that sufficient evidence exists to approve the prescribed Criminal charge
- No plea bargain to a lesser offence (such as a provincial offence which is how many of these cases end up being dealt with) can be reached
- Lastly a conviction must be secured at trial for the prescribed offence
If there is a weak link anywhere in this long legal chain the victims rights are gone.
And get this – in 2019 the BC Government passed a regulation saying police don’t even have to bother to show up following most crashes. No wonder they don’t take crashes seriously. This is saving ICBC millions. At the expense of innocent victims.