Archive for July, 2010

Single Car Collisions

My last blog spoke about animals on the road. In this blog, I look at No Fault Collisions in a more general way. The message is similar.

These are situations where an animal or ice and snow cause the collision. It may also occur where someone driving suffers an unexpected medical event such as an epileptic seizure or heart attack.

Very often the situation I get is someone comes in who was a passenger in a single car collision. They went to ICBC. ICBC asked how the accident happened. They say it was no one’s fault, just bad road conditions. Often they don’t want to say anything that would get the driver “in trouble”.

The reason there is insurance is to cover the driver if the driver did something wrong.

Very often someone goes off the road with no one at fault – there was nothing they could do. If there is no fault, then there is no claim. ICBC adjusters sometimes call this as a no-fault accident.

There is also a legal doctrine known as Inevitable Accident. This is claimed where a collision is by an external force – like an animal unexpectedly jumping out on the road in front of the vehicle with no opportunity to avoid the collision or if the driver is affected by something internal such as a medical condition.

So, if you have been injured in a single car collision and someone else was driving, it is important that you consider whether or not the driver did something that contributed to the collision. To put it another way, was there something the driver could have done to avoid the collision such as drive slower, breaking sooner or paying better attention to his driving. The standard of care necessary is not driving under the speed limit, but rather driving at the speed appropriate for the road conditions.

If you’re in a single car collision, or one that may have been caused by someone with a medical condition, it may be worthwhile to consult with a lawyer prior to making ICBC or an insurance company. You want to make sure any statement you give is clear and accurate and cannot be wrongly interpreted against you.

Collisions with Animals

Imagine driving at night and a deer jumps out of nowhere. The creature comes through the windshield and causes injury.

You are the passenger and say to the police or to an adjuster that there’s nothing the driver could have done – it’s no one’s fault. The adjuster at ICBC says you don’t have a claim. She sarcastically says,

“Who can you sue, the deer?”

You will be told if it’s one hundred percent the fault of the animal, you don’t have a claim. My suggestion is to consult with a lawyer experienced in ICBC cases before making any statements or claims to ICBC or any other party.

Numerous clients have described and told me they experienced the scenario set out above. Is it true that you don’t have a case? It may be but…

When I come across someone in this scenario, I want to know a lot more details. I want to know how the collision happened second by second. I want to know all the details leading up to the collision. Did the passenger see the animal sooner than the driver? Was the driver going too fast? Was the driver not paying attention?

What I am looking for is someone besides my client (usually the driver) who is even partially at fault. Was the driver blinded by an oncoming vehicle with high beams on? Even if a person is one percent at fault, this person is fully liable and ICBC or their insurance company has to pay out damages on their behalf.

Another concern is what statements have been made to ICBC. Very often, the injured passenger has given a statement where they say something to the effect that the driver was not at fault. Sometimes that’s said as the conduct was very minor or the injured party doesn’t want to say bad things about the driver and they don’t know this statement will be used to deny the claim.

If you’re the driver, chances are you don’t have a claim as it’s the fault of the deer and maybe yourself. A passenger may have a claim. This is a situation where you want to speak to a lawyer prior to giving a statement. If you have given a statement, the lawyer will need to see the exact wording prior to giving an opinion.