If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, ICBC will look for defenses to your claim to avoid or minimize the compensation payable. ICBC’s first line of defense to your claim is often liability. To succeed with your injury claim, you must prove that another motorist drove in a negligent manner, thus causing or contributing to the accident. If you cannot prove fault (ie. liability), your tort claim will be dismissed.
Determining Fault in an ICBC claim
In some cases, the negligence is obvious, such as in rear end collisions. In other cases, it may be very difficult to prove, such as in cases where both drivers say they had the green light, but one driver must have entered the intersection on a red light. As the plaintiff (the party advancing the lawsuit) you have the onus of proving, on a balance of probabilities, that the other driver ran the red light
In some accidents, two or more drivers may bear some responsibility for the occurrence. A good example is when Driver A made a left turn and failed to yield to Driver B. At the same time, however, Driver B exceeded the speed limit and entered the intersection on a stale yellow light. In such cases, liability is often split. This will have a significant impact on compensation, because if you are found 50% at fault, the quantum of your damages will be reduced accordingly.
The same principles apply for cyclists and pedestrians who are struck by a motor vehicle.
BC Motor Vehicle Act
The governing rules of the road for drivers in BC is set out in the Motor Vehicle Act. This Act establishes, among other things, obligations such as who has the right-of-way or must yield in various circumstances, such as at stop signs, yield signs, traffic lights, left or right turns, merges, lane changes, and many other situations. That said, the Act is not a complete code because all drivers have an overriding duty to operate their vehicle with due care to avoid an accident. So, in determining liability, we must gather and analyze all the pertinent evidence to try and find fault in our client’s favor. This includes witness evidence, physical evidence at the scene of the crash, and often engineering opinions. This is a task we take very seriously as it can have a big impact on our clients’ claims.
Gathering Accident Evidence for your Injury Claim
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, getting evidence at the scene to show you are not at fault may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, if possible, it is imperative that you get the names and contact information of witnesses, take photos or draw a diagram of the street location, resting position of the vehicles, areas of damage to the vehicles, vehicle debris on the roadway, and weather, road and lighting conditions. You should also contact the police immediately, although in more minor collisions they may not attend. Unfortunately, sometimes drivers accept responsibility at the scene, but their version of events change when they report the claim to ICBC. So, if you can, always try to get collateral evidence at the accident site to support what you say about how the accident happened.
Finding the Right Lawyer for your ICBC Injury Claim
If you have an injury claim with ICBC and liability is an issue, give us a call. We have experience dealing with every type of motor vehicle accident imaginable, with very favourable results.
Content last reviewed: August 7, 2019
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