In this hit and run personal injury case ICBC disputed that the claimant had made all reasonable efforts to find the fleeing driver, as is legally required in British Columbia. The Supreme Court however found that the claimant acted reasonably and was permitted to rely on the actions taken by an agent or agents in order to comply with the statutory obligation (George v. ICBC, 2015 BCSC 442).
However, the court was of the view that it is preferable for any driver or passenger of a vehicle who intends to make a hit and run claim for damages with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, ICBC, to personally and directly make all reasonable efforts to attempt to identify an unknown driver.
The Claimant was driving a Honda Civic belonging to his friend on Marshall Road in Abbotsford, British Columbia. There was a vehicle stopped on the opposite side of the intersection. After the claimant entered the intersection the other vehicle suddenly turned left (north) across his path causing a collision which spun the claimants car 180 degrees.
The Claimant’s personal injury lawyer at the time testified that he advised the claimant to report the accident to ICBC within 24 hours; call the police to report the accident; and to put up a sign at the location of the accident asking for possible witnesses to come forward.
The personal injury lawyer testified that he usually relied on the registered owner of the vehicle to be responsible for making the necessary efforts to attempt to identify the unknown driver in a hit and run situation. The personal injury lawyer recommended the owner put an advertisement in a local newspaper or on the popular internet site known as “craigslist” asking for witnesses to the accident to make contact.
The lawyer testified that he usually gives or sends to clients involved in an alleged “hit and run” accident a brochure or excerpts from a book he had self-published that includes information about s. 24(5) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, but did not recall and made no record of whether he did so in this case.
The owner of the vehicle testified that he telephoned ICBC’s “Dial-a-Claim” number and reported the accident. He went to an ICBC centre where the Honda Civic was examined by an ICBC estimator.
The owner, not the claimant, made a hand-printed sign and posted it on a pole at the intersection of Marshall Road and Clearbrook Road. He said the writing on the sign was quite large and he believed it could be read by drivers travelling southbound on Clearbrook Road if travelling at a moderate speed. The notice included his telephone number.
The owner of the vehicle, and not the claimant, also posted a notice asking for witnesses to come forward on a popular internet site called “craigslist”.
The owner testified that he and claimant did not specifically discuss what steps he was taking to attempt to identify the unidentified driver of the other vehicle involved in the collision; and the claimant did not specifically ask him if a sign had been posted, but knew that the owner was taking steps. The claimant was told by the lawyer that the owner would take the necessary steps to attempt to identify the driver of the other vehicle involved in the collision.
Both the owner and claimant had spoken with the police officer at the scene of the accident and the officer failed to obtain the name of the driver who had told police about the accident. As the judge concluded:
 In the circumstances of this case, I am satisfied that [the claimant] can rely on the efforts made by [owner] and his then-[personal injury lawyer], to attempt to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver. I am satisfied that [the owner] and [the personal injury lawyer] made all reasonable efforts, in the circumstances, to attempt to identify John Doe. I conclude that the identity of the unknown driver is not ascertainable.
 It would be preferable, in my view, for any driver or passenger of a vehicle who intends to make a claim for damages, to personally and directly make all reasonable efforts to attempt to identify an unknown driver. A plaintiff who relies on others to make efforts on his or her behalf runs the risk that the “agent” relied on may not take adequate, or any steps. I am not persuaded, however, that a party may not rely on the actions taken by an agent or agents in order to comply with the statutory obligation. In many circumstances, the claimant may be unable to personally take steps – because he or she has suffered a significant injury, for example, or is hospitalized following the accident.
Where there are a number of injured people involved in an accident it makes little sense to require each of them to personally post signs at the accident scene or place advertisements. However, the injury claim may be barred by s. 24(5) if the agent on whom he or she relies has not made all reasonable efforts to identify the unknown driver.
The claimant was awarded the following:
|Pain and Suffering||$50,000.00|
|Out of Pocket Expenses||5,700.00|
|Past loss of income||20,000.00|
|Future loss of capacity||20,000.00|
|Future cost of care||3,000.00|
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