CRT Dismisses Accelerated Depreciation Claim Because Applicant Named Wrong Party
Reasons for judgement were recently published by BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) dismissing a claim for accelerated depreciation following a serious vehicle collision because the applicant named the wrong party.
In the recent case (Liang v. ICBC) the Applicant’s vehicle was involved in a collision where it sustained over $17,000 in damages. When the vehicle was repaired the Applicant believed its market value was compromised with an accelerated depreciation of several thousand dollars.
Instead of suing the at fault motorists she sued ICBC who presumably were their insurance company. The CRT dismissed the claim finding that the wrong party was sued. Legally it is true that ICBC would not be contractually liable to pay for accelerated depreciation to a plaintiff as that is a tort claim and such cases do need to be brought directly against negligent motorists, not their insurance company. Insurers do, however, pay damages for accelerated depreciation once their insured at fault motorist is held liable.
Interestingly the CRT refused to substitute the motorists in for ICBC finding that since the limitation period expired it would be prejudicial to do so. It is a bit difficult to follow this logic, assuming ICBC was the motorists insurer, as they are the ones who would ultimately be dealing with the claim in any event once the correct parties were named. The Applicant appeared reluctant to name the correct party at the outset which is equally hard to understand. It is worth noting that the BC Supreme Court can and regularly does allow the addition/substitution of parties after the expiration of a lawsuit and does so quite frequently. In any event below are the reasons Vice Chair Andrea Richie provided in dismissing the claim:
- 14.As noted above, ICBC says it is not a proper respondent to Ms. Liang’s claim. ICBC submits that WSPC, as owner of the other vehicle involved in the collision, and ML, as driver of that vehicle, are the proper respondents. I agree. As stated in Squire, claims for accelerated depreciation, such as this one, have been advanced successfully in tort against the person whose fault caused the damage. In this case, for unknown reasons, Ms. Liang chose not to pursue her claim for accelerated depreciation against WSPC or ML, the parties responsible for the damage to her vehicle.
- 15.I say this because Ms. Liang elected not to name WSPC or ML despite being informed by ICBC that WSPC and ML were the proper respondents, and despite being informed by the tribunal that by failing to also name the person who caused the accident, her claim would be unlikely to succeed. Additionally, I note the evidence shows Ms. Liang knew who the other owner and driver were, given that her son named them both in his personal injury claim.
- 16. Liang’s claim is in tort. I find Ms. Liang’s claim should have been made against WSPC and ML. I have considered whether it would be appropriate to allow Ms. Liang the opportunity to add them as respondents. However, as Ms. Liang filed her application with the tribunal at the 2-year statutory limitation period deadline, I find she is out of time to add them, and it would be unfair to deprive WSPC and ML of a limitation defence. I say this keeping in mind that Ms. Liang knew that WSPC and ML were the parties involved in the collision well before she filed this dispute.
- 17.Further, Ms. Liang has not alleged that ICBC is responsible for the claimed accelerated depreciation under her contract of insurance, nor has she produced any evidence that would support such a claim, such as a copy of her insurance policy. In the circumstances, I find Ms. Liang’s claim against ICBC, the only named respondent in this dispute, must be dismissed.