In this late filed personal injury lawsuit(Tolentino v. Gill, 2012 BCSC 1383)the claimant was injured in a car accident and met with an ICBC adjuster soon after the accident. The insurance adjuster, employed by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), was aware that the claimant had not talked to a lawyer and advised him that it was not necessary to have a lawyer at that time. The adjuster intended to discuss settlement directly with the claimant once she obtained the additional medical records. The claimant did not hire a lawyer before the limitation expired.
The claimant was to contact the adjuster but he did not do so before missing the limitation period. The ICBC adjuster did not attempt to contact the claiment either. The only issue in this trial was whether the defendants were estopped from relying on a limitation defence as a result of the words or conduct of the insurance adjuster employed by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).
The doctrine of promissory estoppel required the claimant to prove: 1.  the ICBC adjuster, by words or conduct, made a promise or assurance that was intended to affect their legal relationship and to be acted on; and 2. in reliance on the promise or assurance, the claimant acted on it or in some way changed his position to his detriment.
In concluding that the defendants were not estopped from relying on the limitation defence, and dismissing the personal injury lawsuit, the judge comments on the ICBC adjuster’s behaviour in this way,

[29] I wish to add, however, that I was disturbed by the adjuster’s approach in this case. She sought to rely on an “agreement” with the plaintiff about the next steps but when he did not contact her after several months, she ought to have considered that there could have been a misunderstanding. While she may not have been successful in making contact with the plaintiff given his history, her failure to make any attempt to contact him before the limitation period expired was in my view unreasonable. She had a telephone number and could have left him a message. Although she did not have a legal duty to do so, given her knowledge of the claim, this would have been a more reasonable and fair approach. 

Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness

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