ICBC Hit and Run Claim Succeeds With The "Expectation The Other Driver Would Comply With the Law"


Useful reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, which I summarize in my continued efforts to highlight the ‘reasonable efforts’ requirement for hit and run accident victims.
In last week’s case (Singh v. Clay) the Plaintiff was injured in a handful of collisions.  In one of the incidents the Plaintiff’s vehicle was rear-ended.  Following impact the offending motorist “drove away without stopping, as the Plaintiff exited his vehicle“.  As a result the Plaintiff was unable to take down the offending vehicles licence plate number.
ICBC argued that the Plaintiff did not take reasonable efforts at the scene to identify the driver.  The Plaintiff conceded that he “could have done so but he did not look at the licence plate as he did not expect the driver to drive off as she did“.  Mr. Justice Greyell found this was a reasonable explanation and concluded the Plaintiff complied with his obligations under section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.  The Court provided the following useful comments:

[78] In the present case, Mr. Singh might have been able to take down the licence plate number of the offending vehicle if he had done so immediately.  However, he did not expect the vehicle to leave the scene of the accident.  Once it became clear that the vehicle was not going to stop, his wife made an effort to write the number down, but only got two of the letters.  Following the accident Mr. Singh took all reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the driver.  He spoke to two witnesses, he telephoned ICBC, attended the police, phoned his lawyer to obtain advice as to how to proceed, and, as a result, put up flyers seeking witnesses.

[79] In Leggett the plaintiff’s case was dismissed because the Court found he had made a decision not to pursue his rights at the time of the accident.  In Smoluk the Court distinguishedLeggett stating, at para. 9:

[9]        In my view, the Leggett case is clearly distinguishable from this case because the plaintiff in this action made no decision not to pursue her rights. She was prevented from obtaining more information because of the precipitate departure of the wrongdoer, and in my view the plaintiff acted reasonably in taking down the license plate number which would lead any reasonable person to believe that the identity of the person had been or could easily be ascertained. The fact that she got the number wrong in such circumstances does not indicate unreasonableness.

[80] The facts in Smoluk are similar to those in this case.  The offending driver in that case drove away while the plaintiff was inspecting the damage to his vehicle.  While the driver in Smolukdid get the opportunity to take down a partial plate number Mr. Singh did not.  I find that under the circumstances his expectation the other driver would comply with the law and stop his/her vehicle was a reasonable one.  When the vehicle left the scene as he was getting out of his vehicle, it was too late to get particulars of the licence plate number.  I conclude Mr. Singh acted as a reasonable person would have acted in preserving his rights.

bc injury law, Hit and Run Claims, Mr. Justice Greyell, Reasonable Efforts, section 24 Insurance (Vehicle) Act, Singh v. Clay

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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.

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