A B.C. Supreme Court judge has rejected ICBC's account of a traffic collision on Nordel Way, finding the story of a young motorist who crashed his dad's car into a lamppost more credible.
Sardar Akbari, 18, was a new driver when he slammed the Chevrolet Cobalt into a lamppost near 84th Avenue in North Delta on Dec. 8, 2010 as he and a co-worker were heading to Surrey.
Akbari told the insurance corporation that he had to swerve to miss another car that had run a red light at 84th Avenue. He maintained the crash was solely because of the other unidentified driver's negligence, but ICBC didn't buy it.
Rather, the corporation decided Akbari had concocted the story to hide that he simply lost control of his car - possibly because he'd been speeding on a wet road - before he hit the post.
Even if Akbari was telling the truth, ICBC's lawyer argued in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, he wouldn't be entitled to compensation for his injuries because Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act says a judgment mustn't be made against ICBC unless the motorist has made all reasonable efforts to determine the identity of the unknown driver or owner. ICBC argued he hadn't.
Justice Wendy Baker noted Friday in court that "it would have taken more presence of mind than I believe they possessed at the time" for Akbari and his passenger to "concoct and agree upon a false story in the few minutes between the time the accident happened and the time Constable Da Silva spoke to them."
"I am satisfied that it is more probable than not that the accident was caused by the negligent actions of an unidentified driver," Baker decided.
She also found it was "reasonably prudent" of Akbari to swerve to avoid crashing into the other car.
"I am not satisfied that Mr. Akbari's actions were negligent or that he failed to meet the standard of care required of a reasonably prudent driver in the circumstances," the judge stated in her reasons for judgment. "I am not persuaded that Mr. Akbari was driving at an excessive speed."
Still, ICBC claimed Akbari failed to take reasonable steps to find out who the other driver was. The court heard Akbari called ICBC's dial-a-claim about two hours after the collision to report a hit-and-run.
The court heard Akbari had phoned Delta Police, asking if there were cameras at the intersection so he could get a photo of the other vehicle. Baker noted that the constable told Akbari he'd check this out, but didn't follow through on it. "It was reasonable for Mr. Akbari to assume that there was no camera - or no useful footage - when he heard nothing further from Constable Da Silva," Baker said.
ICBC's lawyer argued Akbari should have canvassed a townhouse complex some distance off for possible witnesses but Baker decided that would have been "a fool's errand."
"Counsel also suggested that Mr. Akbari could have staked out the intersection to see if he could spot the vehicle that crossed his path. Again, this would have been fruitless," the judge decided, noting that Akbari and his passenger couldn't recall anything about the other car other except it was light coloured.
Akbari had also posted a sign at the intersection, seeking witnesses to the crash, Baker noted.
Akbari sought $25,000 for physical injuries and other damages but got $13,622.