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What Does Fault Mean in an ICBC Claim?

Determining fault is critical when you have an Insurance Corporation British Columbia (ICBC) claim in Burnaby, Surrey, Langley and throughout the Lower Mainland. The reason is that the amount of compensation you can obtain in a personal injury case depends significantly on who was at fault. It also matters as to how much loss you incurred from the accident, especially your injury severity, your ability to function in your regular routine and the impact of the collision on your earning ability and capacity.

The impact of the injury on your family relationships may also be taken into consideration.

How Fault Can Be Shared in an Accident

While you are best off if fault rests solely with the other party in the car accident, often both parties are partly to blame. One person may have ran a red light for example and the other party, travelling the opposite direction, may not have seen the first party coming or judged the speed properly and opted to turn left.

If there is a possibility that you could have some liability, the defendant may argue that you - the plaintiff - contributed negligently to the accident. Liability of each party is then apportioned under the Negligence Act in accordance with “comparative blameworthiness.” This means that you and the other person are each responsible in relation to how short the standard of care fell that an ordinarily prudent person would have done in the same situation. The amount of risk that each of you contributed to the accident is considered and if it isn’t possible to establish how much fault each party had, then both parties may share the fault equally.

While it is a common tendency for anyone to try to limit their fault from a car accident, some evidence of causality must be established for a successful claim of contributory negligence. There is no necessary link, for example, between a person who wears a seatbelt improperly and has a car accident and so improper use of a seatbelt isn’t necessarily an accident cause. By contrast, establishing that a warning was given or an alternate course of action was available to you could strengthen the defendant’s claim for shared fault. Each case will depend on the facts and evidence provided.

Once the degree of fault is agreed upon by the lawyers, an arbitrator or a judge, you can recover from ICBC the percentage of loss sustained to the extent of the defendant’s fault. If you got injured as a bicyclist failing to stop at a stop sign, your fault could be assessed at 90 percent and your injury compensation could be reduced accordingly to 10 percent. Each accident and each set of circumstances is different as is the evidence available.

If two people are at fault in injuring a third party, the at-fault drivers could be found jointly and severally liable for the damages caused. So, if one driver can’t pay what is ordered (e.g., because he or she has no insurance), the other driver may, through his or her insurance, be on the hook to pay the total amount owed. In addition, ICBC may be financially responsible if the at fault driver was uninsured.

Common Situations Where Fault is Shared

There are many types of cases where joint liability has resulted from a car crash. A common situation is that of failing to yield the right of way. Inattentive driving is also a common occurrence. Not wearing a seatbelt can impact fault if the seatbelt was a factor in the accident just like failing to get needed vehicle repairs done can impact fault if a warning indicator was visible for needed repairs and no action was taken. A motorcyclist or bicyclist who fails to wear a helmet or protective clothing can lead to some fault if its absence impacted the outcome. A pedestrian who fails to care for his or her own safety (e.g., walks on the wrong side of the road where there is no sidewalk) has liability and someone who gets hurt while impaired by alcohol may also have liability.

Contact Us at Kenneth Cristall Law in Vancouver

If you need a Vancouver car accident lawyer to help you limit any potential for fault, consider contacting Kenneth Cristall Law for your free initial consultation. We deal with ICBC accidents and ICBC lawyers in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and Langley regularly. We can answer your questions and help you to recover the most compensation you deserve for your loss. Contact our experienced injury lawyers at 604-654-2250 today or email us at cristall@shawcable.com.

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