ICBC Hit and Run Claims, Reasonable Efforts and Estoppel
Further to my previous posts discussing legal obligations when seeking compensation following an unidentified motorist collision in BC, interesting reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, suggesting that in the right circumstances estoppel could be used to overcome a ‘failure to take reasonable efforts to identify the Defendant’ defence after a collision has been reported to ICBC.
In this week’s case (Springer v. Kee) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 collision. The at fault driver fled the scene before the plaintiff could identify them. The plaintiff reported the claim to ICBC and to the police but did not take any steps after this to try and identify the at fault motorist.
The plaintiff brought an action seeking compensation from ICBC pursuant to Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act. ICBC brought an application to dismiss the lawsuit arguing the plaintiff failed to take all reasonable steps to identify the motorist after reporting the claim. Mr. Justice Armstrong agreed and dismissed the claim. Before doing so, however, the Court criticized ICBC’s actions and suggested that if estoppel was plead the outcome may have been different. The Court provided the following reasons:
 I accept the view that ICBC was not obliged to warn the plaintiff of his ongoing obligations in the immediate aftermath of his reporting the accident to ICBC; ICBC was, in my view, remiss in their duty to inform the injured party about the steps necessary to perfect his claim, particularly in light of the conversations with the adjuster indicating that his claim had been accepted by the corporation. It seems to me that ICBC’s communications with an injured person ought to include a warning about the prerequisites of the claim against an unidentified motorist.
 In my view, although not obliged to advise people of their obligations under s. 24(5), ICBC ought to recognize the risks that laypeople will rely on remarks made by adjusters suggesting settlements can be expected without warning that the claim will be denied if s. 24(5) is not complied with. Regrettably, I also note that the “Helping You with Your Hit and Run Claim” pamphlet published by ICBC that was given to the plaintiff by the adjuster does not mention the implications of s. 24(5) of the Act.
 Counsel for the plaintiff mentioned the concept of waiver, but did not argue this as a case of estoppel and the pleadings do not advance any claim against ICBC except as nominal defendant.
 Section 24(5) does not permit me to consider the actions of ICBC in the assessment of the plaintiff’s obligations under the Act. That may be the subject of a waiver or estoppel, which is outside of the scope of this application.
 For the reasons given by Barrow J. in Tessier, I am unable to conclude that the actions of ICBC excuse Mr. Springer’s inaction in the weeks following the accident. Therefore, I would dismiss the argument of the plaintiff in this case; I cannot grant judgment because he did not take all reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver as required under s. 24(5) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231.
Mr. Justice Armstrong, section 24 Insurance (Vehicle) Act, Springer v. Kee
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