This personal injury case began on Highway 1 approaching the Herrling Island exit when a sanding truck struck the claimant’s vehicle and caused him to lose control and hit the rock face. The Insurance Corporation of BC, ICBC, denied the hit and run claim on the grounds that it was a single‑car accident and that a sheet of black ice or something other than contact with another vehicle caused the Claimant to leave the roadway and crash. The judge agreed with ICBC, the claim was dismissed and the claimant received no money award for his personal injuries. ICBC claimed double costs for the dismissal. Rule 9‑1(6) sets out the factors the Court may consider when awarding double costs.
ICBC had made an offer to settle the personal injury claim for one dollar two months before the trial and expressed the belief that the Court would conclude that the claimant had suffered no compensable injury. ICBC characterized the settlement offer as being reasonable and said the Claimant should have accepted it because it would have allowed him to recover his expenses up to the time of its receipt, and to avoid exposure to further costs and disbursements.
However the Judge, despite dismissing the claim, did not believe that the claim was groundless nor frivolous. The settlement offer was considered in the context of a serious liability issue where neither side called expert engineering or accident reconstruction evidence. As the Judge points out:
Mr. Miller was aware that he and the defendants held conflicting versions of the material events and that there was a risk that, if the Court found that the evidence did not support his case, his action would be dismissed. However, it does not follow that the nominal Offer ought reasonably to have been accepted by Mr. Miller at any time. As was the case in Stuart, the Offer provided nothing to Mr. Miller in relation to the claim itself and proffered little meaningful benefit to him… Although Mr. Miller ultimately failed to make out his case on a balance of probabilities, I would not characterize his refusal to accept the Offer as unreasonable.(Miller v. Emil Anderson Maintenance Co. Ltd., 014 BCSC 1399)
The Judge therefore declined to order double costs but did award costs at Scale B in favour of the defendants. Claimants receive no money awards when hit and run claims are unsuccessful. Furthermore, as above, injury claimants will also be responsible for the costs of the other side if an offer to settle is not beaten.
Posted By Personal Injury Lawyer in Vancouver Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.