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Li v. ICBC: Driver Held At-Fault for Changing Lanes in Front of TransLink Bus

Whenever an auto accident occurs in Vancouver, ICBC is likely to be involved. An ICBC adjuster will typically review the circumstances surrounding the accident and determine who was at-fault. If you find yourself on the negative end of such a decision, you may need to go to court to vindicate your rights, particularly if you suffered monetary damages in the accident and seek compensation from ICBC.

Unfortunately, taking on ICBC is easier said than done. ICBC has a great deal of experience in defending against auto accident claims. This is why you need to be extremely careful in preparing your case. It is not enough to simply show up in court and tell your side of the story.

The Accident and ICBC’s Findings

A recent decision from the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal offers a cautionary tale of the difficulties accident victims face when challenging ICBC’s conclusions regarding a motor vehicle accident. This case involves an accident that took place during the afternoon of June 1, 2018. The applicant in this case was driving his car southeast on West Cordova Street, which forms a four-way intersection with Richard Street and Water Street near the Vancouver campus of Simon Fraser University.

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At the same time, a bus operating under the authority of TransLink, was also traveling southeast on West Cordova Street. The bus was in the curb lane and stopped at a marked bus stop just located about one-third of a block from the previously mentioned four-way intersection. The applicant’s car was in the middle lane adjacent to the bus.

As the bus moved away from the bus stop, the applicant’s car moved into the curb lane–directly in front of the bus–as the applicant prepared to make a 90-degree right turn onto Richards Street. The bus driver then made a sudden stop to avoid a collision. The applicant completed his right turn and moved away from the intersection. Meanwhile, a passenger on the bus sustained injuries due to the sudden stop.

ICBC adjusters interviewed the injured passenger and reviewed video footage from the TransLink bus itself. Based on this evidence, ICBC determined the applicant was 100% at-fault for the accident and the passenger’s injuries. That is to say, ICBC determined the applicant illegally pulled out in front of the bus, forcing the bus driver to make a sudden stop.

The applicant disagreed with ICBC’s findings. He maintained TransLink and the bus driver were negligent. On that basis he applied for a Claims Assessment Review with ICBC. But an arbiter agreed with the finding of 100% liability. This prompted the applicant to file a claim for $2,500 against ICBC with the CRT.

Tribunal Rejects Driver’s Attempts to Shift Blame to Bus Operator, Passenger

Tribunal Member Sarah Orr reviewed the case on behalf of the CRT. Orr ultimately agreed with ICBC’s assessment of the applicant’s fault. She rejected several arguments raised by the applicant challenging the evidence against him.

The first argument addressed the video evidence taken from the TransLink bus. The applicant maintained the video footage was “misleading” due to the narrow scope of the camera and the absence of any footage showing the rear- or side-view of the bus. Orr said the lack of such additional perspectives did not matter, given that “all parties’ recollection” of the events leading up to the accident were similar. Critically, there was no dispute that the applicant’s car was “far ahead of the bus” as the vehicles approached the intersection.

Second, the applicant maintained that under B.C. law, TransLink owed the passenger a “high standard of care,” which it breached as a result of the bus driver’s decision to suddenly stop. In a 2014 B.C. Supreme Court decision cited by the applicant, the court held that “once it is established that a passenger was injured while riding on a public transit vehicle, a prima facie case of negligence is made out,” and the burden of proof shifts to the transit operator to demonstrate it was not negligent.

Orr said this precedent did not help the applicant’s claim. She explained that in the case before the Supreme Court, a car had “started drifting into the curb lane” in front of a bus, giving the bus driver sufficient time to react. In this case, by contrast, the video and other evidence showed the applicant “did not enter the curb lane until it was already at the intersection, thus giving the bus driver very little time to brake.”

Next, the applicant alleged the injured passenger was partly at-fault for her own injuries, as she “did not have her fare ready when boarding the bus” and was not holding onto anything as it moved away from the curb. Orr said there was “no requirement” in B.C. law requiring a passenger to have their fare ready, and in any event the passenger here had “no control over when the bus started moving.”

Finally, the applicant said there was “not enough room to change from the middle lane to the curb lane to turn right onto Richards Street when there is a bus in the curb lane.” Orr said this was no excuse for the applicant’s driving. It may have been “inconvenient” for him to wait behind the bus. But under the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act, the applicant had a legal duty to safely determine he could “change lanes without interfering with other traffic.” He failed to do so, and ICBC was therefore justified in its liability finding.

Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers if You Have Been Injured in a Vancouver Auto Accident

Many B.C. drivers think they know the rules of the road and simply assume they are in the right when an incident like this one takes place. But never make assumptions when it comes to the law, and never assume you know the law better than ICBC.

If you are involved in a car accident and are unsure of your legal rights and responsibilities, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Vancouver personal injury lawyer. Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with one of our auto accident lawyers today.


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