What can you do when a freak accident causes so much damage to a family member? One minute you and your family are happily chatting and the next second your car is struck by an animal or object that has suddenly appeared on the road. One second your family is bonding and the next instant it is torn apart by tragedy. Our Surrey Catastrophic ICBC Injury lawyers handle these traumatic incidents and ensure all of your family members are protected.
Where does Fault Lie In A BC ICBC Injury Case When You Hit An Animal?
In Knight v. Knight, 2014 BCSC 1478, this question arose in regards to a moose that had wandered onto the highway, resulting in a very serious collision. In this case, Mrs. Knight was the passenger in a vehicle being driven by her husband, Mr. Knight. The two were travelling with their two children on highway 37, connecting Terrace and Kittimat, when they collided with a moose in their land of the highway. Mrs. Knight suffered significant disabling injuries as a result of the collision, including a severe traumatic brain injury. She made a claim for damages against her husband in negligence.
Inevitable Accident or Negligence?
When wildlife is involved in an accident, the defence (as in this case) will often be one of ‘inevitable accident’, meaning the unfortunate event was completely unavoidable and therefore no negligence can be found on the Defendant. However, there is no hard and fast legal rule with regards to accidents involving wildlife. The guiding principle is that each case will depend heavily on the findings of fact, the circumstances surrounding the collision and what, if any, opportunity there was to avoid the accident.
The governing facts in this case were as follows: Mr. Knight had seen moose warning signs. Northern highways were known to have moose. Lighting was such that he would have had opportunity to see the moose. Mr. Knight observed a “blackout” of vehicle headlights coming in the opposite direction which indicated to him something may have crossed the path of that vehicle on the highway. The court found that there was about a 5 second interval between noticing that blackout, and the impact with the moose. Despite this, he did not brake or otherwise reduce his speed from the posted limit of 100 km/hr. Based on the findings of fact, the court also found, that Mr. Knight had an, “adequate opportunity to observe the moose in time to take action to avoid the collision”. Mr. Justice Sewell stated at paragraph 48:
 I conclude that Mr. Knight was operating his vehicle in a negligent manner on the night of October 22, 2008. I find that given the time of the year and the time of day and the presence of moose warnings signs on Highway 37, Mr. Knight was negligent in failing to slow his vehicle and in failing to take any extra precautions to keep a look out for the presence of moose on or near the highway.  I also find that he was negligent when he failed to immediately taken steps to slow his vehicle when he observed something crossing in front of the headlights of Mr. Thomas’s oncoming truck.  In my view a reasonable person in Mr. Knight’s position would have immediately taken steps to slow his vehicle when he saw the headlights of the oncoming vehicle black out. I find that Mr. Knight was aware that something was obstructing the lights of the oncoming vehicle. Given the other factors I have already outlined – the warning that moose might be present on the highway, the time of day, and the fact that October is in the rutting season when moose are more likely to be present – I conclude that a reasonable driver would have realized that there was material risk that it was an animal that was obstructing the lights and would immediately have applied his brakes and slowed his vehicle until he had ascertained what was causing the obstruction. I find that it was negligent of Mr. Knight not to do so.
ICBC Damages For Surrey Catastrophic ICBC Injury Lawyers
Once negligence had been established, the discussion turned to damages for Mrs. Knight. In assessing pain and suffering, the court concluded that Mrs. Knight’s injuries were, in fact, devastating. She suffered grievous physical injuries resulting in permanent disabilities. As a result, the Plaintiff had lost control of her own life, was limited in almost all her activities at a relatively young age. She also had an awareness of her own limitations, which in the court’s view, made her loss “more profound”. Mr. Justice Sewell awarded her the upper limit of non-pecuniary damages, being $350,000.
We Hope You Never Need To Call Our Surrey Catastrophic ICBC Injury Lawyers
Our Surrey Catastrophic ICBC injury lawyers hope you never have to call us. However, we know that no matter how careful people are sometimes unfortunate things happen. If strategy strikes, you will need the support of both your family and the skilled and passionate Plaintiff’s ICBC injury claim lawyers from MacLean Personal Injury.
Our senior and empathetic personal injury lawyers can help the minute you call them at 604-576-5400.