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Always get a name before you give someone your keys

Who among us hasn’t met a strange person at the bar and decided “I should get this person to drive my truck to Prince Rupert”? That was the scenario set out by Mr. Gibson in his personal injury action. Mr. Gibson was seeking compensation for injuries he suffered when his truck left the road around midnight, just outside of Terrace. At the time, his licence was suspended. When police attended, Mr. Gibson claimed that he had been riding as a passenger, and another man (“Mr. X”) had been driving his truck. Police noticed that Mr. Gibson appeared intoxicated.


ICBC and the “Hit and Run” Provision

Mr. Gibson brought a personal injury action on the basis that Mr. X had been driving his truck. Since the alleged driver was not identified, ICBC defended the claim under the “hit and run” provision of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act. ICBC argued that the court should not believe Mr. Gibson because he could not provide a name for the alleged driver, and he had not made any significant efforts to identify the alleged driver.

Prior to the Accident, Mr. Gibson had been at a pub in Terrace with a friend. Mr. Gibson claimed that Mr. X came in and sat at a nearby table. Mr. X struck up a conversion with Mr. Gibson, and explained that he would lose his job if he was not in Prince Rupert the next morning to catch his boat. Mr. Gibson told Mr. X that he too had to be in Prince Rupert the next day to help a friend move and for that purpose use his truck. They agreed to have Mr. X drive Mr. Gibson’s truck to Prince Rupert. Mr. Gibson described Mr. X as an aboriginal person in his 30s, 5’10” or 11″ with reddish brown hair. Mr. Gibson testified that Mr. X appeared sober, that he showed Mr. Gibson his driver’s licence and that Mr. Gibson noted the picture and validation date. Mr. Gibson also testified that Mr. X “told us his name when he first got there” but that he didn’t remember it after the Accident.

Mr. Gibson testified that he lost consciousness during the Accident, and when he awoke, Mr. X had already left the vehicle. Mr. Gibson looked out the back window and saw Mr. X up on the side of the embankment running away, in the direction of Prince Rupert. He yelled for Mr. X to stop and shouted that he needed help, but Mr. X looked and kept on running. Mr. Gibson climbed up the embankment, and shortly thereafter the police arrived. The only additional detail that Mr. Gibson was able to provide about Mr. X was that he was allegedly known as “Butch”.

The trial judge refused to accept Mr. Gibson’s claim that “some guy known as Butch crashed my truck and took off”:

[22] … the scenario put forward by Mr. Gibson has an aura of unreality. That is to say that Mr. Gibson who had five previous impaired driving convictions and whose licence was thereby suspended and who was then in an intoxicated state was a passenger in his own vehicle which had been driven by a person whose name he did not know. That unknown person was someone Mr. Gibson had spent several hours with in a social setting and whose licence he had checked and who was sober. That person, after the accident which had totally demolished the vehicle and quite severely injured Mr. Gibson, left the scene apparently not seriously injured for no apparent reason and in spite of Mr. Gibson’s protestations that he had been injured.

(written by Troy McLelan)

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