Is ICBC No Fault So Broad That You Can’t Sue When a Plane Falls Out of the Sky?
Imagine you are driving on a BC highway. Out of nowhere a plane comes out of the sky and smashes into your vehicle causing injury.
This is not academic. This unfortunately just occured in Langley, BC, as reported by CityNews.
Emergency crews say three people have been hospitalized after a plane clipped a vehicle on 216 Street and then crash-landed at the Langley Regional Airport.
— CityNews Vancouver (@CityNewsVAN) May 2, 2023
Now an interesting question was posed to me by BC lawyer Kyla Lee. Can motorists sue in these circumstances or are their rights stripped by ICBC no fault?
Serious question @erikmagraken – can the people in this crash sue, or is it barred as a motor vehicle accident lawsuit and must go through no fault? https://t.co/3YDkN5dPpt
— Kyla Lee (@IRPlawyer) May 3, 2023
The short answer is this has never been judicially decided so no one can say for sure.
That said the BC No fault laws are written so broadly they may even stop you from suing a pilot for injuries when a plane smashes into your vehicle.
Here’s the breakdown.
Section 115 of BC’s Insurance Vehicle Act states that for almost all BC crashes on a highway after May 1, 2021
“a person has no right of action and must not commence or maintain proceedings respecting bodily injury caused by a vehicle arising out of an accident.”
An “accident” means an accident in which there is bodily injury caused by a vehicle.
A “vehicle” means a motor vehicle or trailer. “Motor Vehicle” has the same meaning as under s. 1 of the Motor Vehicle Act, which “means a vehicle, not run on rails, that is designed to be self-propelled or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but does not include mobile equipment, a motor assisted cycle or a regulated motorized personal mobility device”. This definition appears to include a plane.
“bodily injury caused by a vehicle” means bodily injury caused by a vehicle or the use or operation of a vehicle;
Section 116 then carves out a list of exceptions none of which apply to suing a pilot for how they operated a plane unless there is a specific criminal code conviction. There are some exceptions about suing people other than the operator in certain circumstances like negligent manufacturing or repair. But the right to sue an operator of a plane if they are negligent and hit a vehicle on a BC highway may be caught by ICBC’s heavy handed no fault laws.
Section 114 goes on to carve out other scenarios where no-fault benefits are not in play (and presumably individuals retain the right to sue). A standard vehicle on a BC highway being struck by a plane falling out of the sky does not appear to be in the list.
Ultimately this question needs judicial clarification for certainty but if correct this and countless other fact patterns are piling on to the ever growing list of reasons of why no fault is a catastrophe for BC crash victims.