Determining Fault in an Accident

Your ICBC claim depends on finding that another person was partially or wholly at fault for the accident. A person who is the sole cause of an accident cannot bring a claim against ICBC (except no-fault benefits, which are available regardless of fault). There are some cases where fault is usually clear (rear-end collisions, vehicle runs a red light or stop sign, unsafe lane change), but other cases can depend on the very specific facts. For that reason you should not rely on what the police, ICBC or anyone else says about who is at fault for your accident – always consult a lawyer.

What if the police gave me a ticket?

When the police issue a ticket, they are technically making a charge against the person ticketed. That charge depends on the evidence which is often recounted to police by people who may be mistaken or may not be reliable. Even if you paid the ticket, that does not bar your ICBC claim: many people pay the ticket to avoid the hassle of fighting it. However, we never recommend that our client pay a ticket that they disagree with, and we advise them how to fight the ticket. Also, there may be multiple causes of the accident (e.g. one person turned left when it was unsafe to do so, but the other driver was speeding), in which case both drivers could be at fault.

Can both parties be at fault?

Yes, there can be an allocation of liability between both drivers. In that case both drivers can make an ICBC claim, but it will be reduced proportionate to their share of liability.

Can I challenge ICBC’s determination of fault?

Yes, although you will want to get a lawyer. Once ICBC makes an internal determination of liability they generally refuse to change it. However, ICBC’s determination carries no legal weight, and if your case goes to trial, the court will review all the evidence before it and make its own determination of liability.

What if I admitted liability at the scene?

Even if you said “I’m sorry, it was my fault”, you may not be bound by that statement. There is a law called the Apology Act that encourages people to apologize and thereby avoid confrontation in situations where tempers might flare (for example, after a car accident). The Apology Act says that an apology is not an admission of liability. Also, as noted above, even if you did do something wrong, there may still be a division of liability if the other driver contributed to the accident as well.