Tag: Ice

Crashes and Winter Driving Conditions: Take Care to Be Accurate When Calling ICBC


With the first heavy snow of 2012 hitting the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria comes the expected increase in motor vehicle collisions.  With this in mind I’m republishing a post I originally wrote in the early days of this blog reminding injured passengers of the consequences of minimizing details of wrongdoing when reporting a collision to ICBC:
Snow in BC has two reliable results 1. Car Accidents, 2. Phone calls to ICBC and lawyers about those car accidents. The second is particularly true in Victoria and Vancouver because of the local populations relative inexperience dealing with winter driving conditions.
In anticipation of the almost certain phone calls I will receive this week I write this post.
If you are the driver involved in a single vehicle accident in British Columbia, and you lost control due to the weather, all you can likely claim from ICBC are Part 7 Benefits. There is (except in some unusually peculiar situations such as an ICBC insured driver contributing to the road hazards) in all likelihood no claim from ICBC for pain and suffering and other losses in these circumstances.  Your right to claim pain and suffering and other “tort” damages only arises if someone else is at fault for your injuries. In single vehicle accidents drivers usually only have themselves or the weather to blame.
If someone else contributed to the accident (perhaps the road maintenance company for failing to act in a timely fashion or perhaps a mechanic for failing to bring your vehicle up to snuff last time you had it inspected) you will have to make a claim against them. Chances are they are not insured through ICBC for such claims and instead you will have to claim against their policy of private insurance.
Now, if you are a passenger in a single vehicle, weather related accident, and your driver did not operate the vehicle safely in all the circumstances (for example driving too fast for the known or anticipated poor road conditions) and this caused or contributed to the collision then you can bring a tort claim against them in addition to claiming your Part 7 Benefits.
If you are advancing a tort claim against a driver be weary of the defence of “inevitable accident”. ICBC defends claims. One of the best defences to a weather related accident is that it was “inevitable”. What this means is that the driver, operating safely, could not have avoided losing control of his vehicle. If this can be proven then the tort claim can be defeated.
People naturally don’t want to get those known to them in trouble and it is all too common for passengers reporting such a claim to ICBC to readily agree to how unexpected the accident was and how the driver was operating the vehicle very carefully. If this is true that’s fine. My words of caution are as follows: If the driver was not careful and you give ICBC the alternate impression with a view towards helping the driver out, your statement may severely damage your ability to bring a tort claim.
Tell the truth and know what’s at stake when doing so. If ICBC gets the false impression that an accident was inevitable you will have a much harder time advancing or settling your tort claim.
The bottom line is this: If an accident truly is inevitable and there is no tort claim so be it, but, don’t lead ICBC to this conclusion if it isn’t true. Doing so will harm your claim for lawful compensation.

Repost: Ice, Snow and Your ICBC Injury Claim


The first snow of the year is falling and with it will come the usual increase in motor vehicle accidents.  With this in mind I’m republishing a post I originally wrote in the early days of this blog:
Snow in BC has two reliable results 1. Car Accidents, 2. Phone calls to ICBC and lawyers about those car accidents. The second is particularly true in Victoria and Vancouver because of the local populations relative inexperience dealing with winter driving conditions.
In anticipation of the almost certain phone calls I will receive this week I write this post.
If you are the driver involved in a single vehicle accident in British Columbia, and you lost control due to the weather, all you can likely claim from ICBC are Part 7 Benefits. There is (except in some unusually peculiar situations such as an ICBC insured driver contributing to the road hazards) in all likelihood no claim from ICBC for pain and suffering and other losses in these circumstances.  Your right to claim pain and suffering and other “tort” damages only arises if someone else is at fault for your injuries. In single vehicle accidents drivers usually only have themselves or the weather to blame.
If someone else contributed to the accident (perhaps the road maintenance company for failing to act in a timely fashion or perhaps a mechanic for failing to bring your vehicle up to snuff last time you had it inspected) you will have to make a claim against them. Chances are they are not insured through ICBC for such claims and instead you will have to claim against their policy of private insurance.
Now, if you are a passenger in a single vehicle, weather related accident, and your driver did not operate the vehicle safely in all the circumstances (for example driving too fast for the known or anticipated poor road conditions) and this caused or contributed to the collision then you can bring a tort claim against them in addition to claiming your Part 7 Benefits.
If you are advancing a tort claim against a driver be weary of the defence of “inevitable accident”. ICBC defends claims. One of the best defences to a weather related accident is that it was “inevitable”. What this means is that the driver, operating safely, could not have avoided losing control of his vehicle. If this can be proven then the tort claim can be defeated.
People naturally don’t want to get those known to them in trouble and it is all too common for passengers reporting such a claim to ICBC to readily agree to how unexpected the accident was and how the driver was operating the vehicle very carefully. If this is true that’s fine. My words of caution are as follows: If the driver was not careful and you give ICBC the alternate impression with a view towards helping the driver out, your statement may severely damage your ability to bring a tort claim.
Tell the truth and know what’s at stake when doing so. If ICBC gets the false impression that an accident was inevitable you will have a much harder time advancing or settling your tort claim.
The bottom line is this: If an accident truly is inevitable and there is no tort claim so be it, but, don’t lead ICBC to this conclusion if it isn’t true. Doing so will harm your claim for lawful compensation.

Jury Finds Driver Faultless for Going Through Stop Sign in Icy Conditions


I have written previously about the ‘invevitable accident‘ defence more accurately referred to as a ‘no-negligence‘ defence.  Today the BC Court of Appeal released reasons for judgement considering this area of the law in the context of a personal injury lawsuit that was dismissed by a BC Jury.
In today’s case (Bhangal v. Sloan) the Plaintiff was injured when his vehicle was struck by a pick-up truck driven by the Defendant.  The Defendant went through a stop sign without stopping.    His explanation was that he was not careless but rather could not stop due to the slope of the hill he was travelling down and ice on the roadway.  The Jury accepted this evidence and dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim finding that the Defendant was not careless in operating his truck.
The Plaintiff appealed arguing that the Jury was wrong and that their finding was one “no properly instructed jury could reach“.  The BC Court of Appeal disagreed and upheld the Jury dismissal of the personal injury lawsuit.  In reaching this conclusion the BC High Court reasoned as follows:

In Fontaine, the principle of res ipsa loquitur was put to one side as being no longer applicable in Canadian negligence law. It is no longer to be presumed that a car running off the road (or its loss of control) is attributable to the negligence of its driver. Rather, a case in negligence must be proven on both the direct and circumstantial evidence adduced, with effect being given to such inferences as the evidence properly supports.

[10] In Nason v. Nunes, 2008 BCCA 203, 82 B.C.L.R. (4th) 1, this Court discussed the effect of Fontaine on its decision in Savinkoff v. Seggewiss, [1996] 10 W.W.R. 457, 25 B.C.L.R. (3d) 1, where it had been held there was an inference of negligence on the part of a driver of a vehicle that had slid out of control into another vehicle, requiring the driver to explain how the accident could have happened without his negligence. In Nason it was said:

[14]  … If and to the extent that the Court in Savinkoff intended to establish or confirm a legal rule that negligence must be inferred as a matter of law whenever a vehicle goes off the road and that the defendant must always meet it in the manner suggested, I believe the decision has been superseded by Fontaine. Wherever the court finds on all the evidence that negligence has not been proven, or that the defendant has shown he drove with reasonable care, the defendant must succeed, whether or not he is able to “explain” how the accident occurred. This is not to suggest that an inference may not be drawn as a matter of fact in a particular case, where a vehicle leaves the road or a driver loses control; but as the trial judge stated at para. 53 of her reasons (citing Fontaine at paras. 20, 24 and 35), such an inference will be “highly dependant on the facts” of the case and the explanation required to rebut it will “vary in accordance with the strength of the inference sought to be drawn by the plaintiff.”

[11] Mr. Bhangal accepts, as he must, that no inference of negligence arises here as a matter of law, but he contends a case of negligence was made out against Mr. Sloan on the direct and circumstantial evidence adduced such that it was not open to the jury to find otherwise.

[12] I accept it is arguable that, given the severe conditions, reasonable care may have required Mr. Sloan to have tested his brakes more than he did and either to have travelled slower than the 20 kph at which he was proceeding (if he travelled at all) or to have applied his brakes and slowed down sooner than he did on approaching the intersection. The case was, however, tried before a jury who were instructed their task was to determine whether Mr. Sloan did what a reasonable and careful person would have done in the circumstances. They found that he had and, taking Mr. Sloan’s evidence at its best, I do not consider it can be said their finding was so unreasonable this Court should now intervene.

[13] Mr. Sloan was proceeding cautiously at 20 kph; he checked his brakes as he drove toward the intersection and satisfied himself they were effective; and he applied them 150 feet from the intersection fully expecting he would stop. When he lost control of his truck on the icy road, he did everything he could to alert Mr. Bhangal. The jury was evidently satisfied he had met the requisite standard of care and that the accident occurred without negligence on his part. In my view, that was a conclusion both in fact and in law that was open to them.

[14] I would accordingly dismiss the appeal.

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If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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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