The claimant was injured in this hit and run truck accident (Jennings v. Doe) when his Toyota pick-up truck was forced off the Trans-Canada Highway and struck a hydro pole in the adjacent ditch. The claimant said the accident was caused by the negligence of the unidentified driver of a tractor-trailer unit which crossed into his lane of travel, forcing his vehicle to leave the roadway.
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, ICBC, on the other hand, says that the claimants’ injuries resulted from a single vehicle accident caused by the claimants’ own negligence and that he failed to take all reasonable steps to identify the driver of the tractor-trailer unit and is therefore disentitled to compensation for his injuries received in the motor vehicle accident, pursuant to s. 24(5) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.
In BritishColumbia the law permits an innocent driver injured by a hit and run driver to sue ICBC in place of the at unknown at fault driver. In other jurisdictions governments set up judgment recovery Funds that all private insurance companies have to pay into so if a person is injured by a hit and run driver they can apply to the Fund for compensation. In British Columbia in order the get compensation from ICBC you have to give ICBC notice, within six months that you are going to claim against them for hit and run, you must be unable to reasonable identify to owner and driver of the vehicle and the other driver must be found to be negligent. There are other time limits and statutory limitations to these cases so talking to a and hiring a personal injury lawyer is critical early in a hit and run case.
In this case the ICBC adjuster prepared a statement but before signing the statement the claimant sought legal advice and some handwritten alterations were made to the typewritten document prepared by the ICBC adjuster. The claimant then signed the amended statement and the necessary notices required by the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, were delivered to ICBC. The judge quoted Vanderbyl v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, (1993) 79 B.C.L.R. (2d) (S.C.), at paras. 37 and 38, where the court set out a list of elements to be considered in assessing the credibility of a claimant in cases such as these. Among the elements identified were the following:
1. Whether the plaintiff reported the existence of the unidentified vehicle as soon as reasonably possible to the police or other persons in authority and to I.C.B.C.
2. Whether the description of the unidentified motor vehicle given by the plaintiff was as specific as might reasonably be expected from the particular plaintiff in the circumstances.
3. Whether the plaintiff’s testimony at trial is consistent with statements given to the police, doctors or medical attendants, family members, associated or other witnesses or to I.C.B.C.
4. Whether the plaintiff has called witnesses to testify to whom statements were made or who might testify about the plaintiff’s actions after the incident.
8. Whether the plaintiff’s actions following the accident are consistent with those one might reasonably expect of a person in similar circumstances.
The judge concluded that the accident was caused solely by the negligence of the driver of the tractor-trailer unit who entered the claimants’ lane of travel when it was unsafe to do so. That other driver failed to see the claimants’ vehicle when it was there to be seen, and changed lanes when it was unsafe to do so and without having signalled his intention to change lanes by activating his turn signal.
Furthermore, the claimant was found to have made all efforts that were reasonable, in the circumstances of this case, to identify the driver of the tractor-trailer unit. The judge was persuaded that the identities of the unknown driver and owner are not ascertainable. The injury claimant was therefore is entitled to an order that ICBC is responsible for any damages payable to the injury claimant caused by the accident. Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness
Issue: Should people injured by hit and run drivers be automatically entitled to compensation?