Defendant Not Liable For Collision Caused By Black Ice
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, discussing the issue of fault for a crash involving black ice.
In this week’s case (Johns v. Friesen) the Plaintiff was a passenger in the Defendant’s vehicle. The Defendant encountered black ice and lost control of his vehicle. The Plaintiff was injured in this incident and sued for damages. The value of the Plaintiff’s case was agreed to leaving the Court to deal only with the issue of fault. Madam Justice Kloegman ultimately found that the Defendant was not driving negligently and dismissed the Plaintiff’s injury claim. In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
 In my opinion, this was an unfortunate case of accident that is not attributable to anyone. There is an insufficient evidentiary basis to find that the defendant Friesen was driving below the standard of care of a reasonable, prudent driver. In fact, the evidence established that although it was winter, the driving conditions were good. The Truck and tires were in new and excellent condition. The plaintiff and defendant Friesen were both well-rested. The road conditions were good the day before and that morning, both through Merritt and on the highway. There had been no warnings from any source of black ice. The black ice was invisible, and the defendant Friesen was driving at least 20 kilometers per hour below the speed limit.
 The standard of care of a driver in these circumstances is not one of perfection: Hadden v. Lynch, 2008 BCSC 295 at para. 69. The defendant Friesen admitted that he should not have braked, but braking in such a situation is an automatic reflex to try and regain control of a skidding vehicle. The plaintiff did not suggest that this automatic reaction of the defendant Friesen could be the sole foundation for a successful allegation of negligence.
 In conclusion, I dismiss the plaintiff’s case as having failed to show on a balance of probabilities that the plaintiff was negligent in the circumstances.
This case, along with the fast approaching winter season, makes this an opportune time to remind passengers injured in single vehicle collisions of the use their statement to ICBC can have on their injury claim. My previous post addressing this topic can be found here.