Tag: Brooks v. Gilchrest

Personal Injury Claim Dismissed in "No Impact" Collision

I’ve written dozens of times about Low Velocity Impacts where Plaintiffs are injured and compensated despite being involved in accidents with little to no vehicle damage.  But what about no impact collisions, can a Plaintiff be compensated if their vehicle is not struck at all?  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with such a claim.
In today’s case (Brooks v. Gilchrist) the Plaintiff was involved in 2 alleged motor vehicle collisions.  She sued for damages.  The first incident  occurred when the Plaintiff was stopped at a red light.  The vehicle next to hers was rear-ended by the defendant.  the Plaintiff “heard a loud sound and felt that she may have been hit as well“.  The Plaintiff claimed she was injured.
At trial the court heard evidence from ICBC estimators who inspected the various vehicles that was “no evidence of any damage or paint transfers or scrapes to the right fron of the (defendant vehicle) or the left back end of the (plaintiff’s vehicle)”.
Mr. Justice Sigurdson went on to find that there in fact was no collision and dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim for the first incident.  In reaching this conclusion the Court provided the following reasons:

[35] My conclusion on the evidence is that, in the first accident, there was no contact at all between the defendant’s vehicle and the plaintiff’s vehicle.  If any contact had been made, it would have been so minor that the vehicles would be touching, but I find, based on the evidence of the witnesses at the scene, that the vehicles were not touching after the collision.  If the vehicles were touching, the plaintiff would have made that observation at the time, rather than simply advancing the theory that the Beynon vehicle must have struck her car, a theory which she maintained until just before the trial.

[36] Further, the absence of any damage or mark or paint transfer or scuffing to the Neon or the right side of the Gilchrist truck supports the view that there was no collision between the Gilchrist vehicle and the plaintiff’s vehicle.  The Gilchrist vehicle had a tow hook at the front and the absence of damage from that also suggests the absence of any collision.  I have considered the possibility that braking might cause the tow hook to be lower, but the absence of any damage from the tow hook is consistent with the fact that there was no collision.

[37] The plaintiff was at best uncertain whether she was involved in an accident.  Perhaps the noise of a collision in her vicinity startled her and made her suspect that her vehicle had been contacted but I find on all of the evidence that it was not.  Her answer on discovery was accurate when she said: “I remember the sound more than the actual, like, feeling of the car moving.”

[38] The plaintiff’s case, at its best, is that there was a possibility that the defendant vehicle made contact with her vehicle.  However, the plaintiff has the burden of proof on that issue on a balance of probabilities, and has fallen far short of meeting that burden.

[39] Accordingly, because there was no collision involving the plaintiff, there can be no liability with respect to the first accident.

It is worth noting that while the above case failed because the court found there was no impact, there is no requirement in law for a Plaintiff to actually be struck by a vehicle in order to have a compensable claim.  This has long been recognized in ‘nervous shock‘ lawsuits.

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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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