17 Mar Another loss for ICBC: jury awards $216k for hit and run that ICBC said never happened
“You can win. You can fight ICBC. Tell the truth — just don’t give up.” – Dainya Watson, after winning a lengthy legal battle against ICBC that resulted in an award of over $216k in damages.
On January 11, 2013, a van veered off 248th St. in Langley and struck Dainya and her horse, Tornado. The impact threw Dainya to the ground, and Tornado rolled over top of her. According to Dainya, the van slowed down after the collision, but then sped off after both Dainya and Tornado stood back up. Despite her injuries, which turned out to be serious and permanent, Dainya remounted Tornado and the pair attempted to chase down the van.
Dainya located what she believed to be the van a few blocks away. She telephoned the police to report the collision. First responders took her to hospital, where doctors reasoned she might have suffered a broken pelvis. However, they could not confirm this diagnosis with an x-ray because they also determined that Dainya was six weeks pregnant.
The collision restricted Dainya to bed rest for eight weeks. Her pregnancy meant that she could not use painkillers, leaving her in constant pain for months, and she had to have an early c-section. The collision caused permanent nerve damage. She continues to suffer from back pain to the present day, and she lost the ability to ride horses, clearly an important pastime for her.
The law in British Columbia makes ICBC responsible for injuries caused by hit and run drivers; ICBC is usually the insurer in collisions like the one that injured Dainya and Tornado. Nevertheless, when Dainya brought her claim to ICBC they refused to pay.
Dainya’s case came before the courts at a time when ICBC marketing campaigns insinuate that up to 20% of its motor vehicle claims involve fraud. As Ian Mulgrew put it for the Vancouver Sun, ICBC suggests that a “staggering number” of British Columbians advancing claims for motor vehicle accidents are “scam artist[s]”, who are “faking, malingering, exaggerating, or just plain lying.”
In other words, our public insurer apparently thinks liars number one out of every five in this province, a bold claim to make without any supporting evidence. Dainya’s lawyer points out that ICBC has not cited any research supporting its advertised figures, and views the marketing campaign as a factor serving to “taint the jury pool of the general public” against persons advancing injury claims.
Predictably, ICBC denied that Dainya’s collision ever occurred, and said that she should not be believed.
Fortunately, a jury of eight British Columbians took Dainya’s word over ICBC’s. They accepted that the collision occurred much as Dainya described it, although they concluded that Dainya was mistaken when she believed she had found the van that struck her. The jury awarded a little over $216k in damages.
The outcome in Dainya’s case reflects the recent decision in Arsenovski, where the court ordered that ICBC pay $350k to a woman falsely accused of making misstatements about an accident in which her husband suffered critical injuries.
ICBC will go to great lengths to avoid paying the compensation that injured British Columbians are entitled to – wrongful prosecution, media campaigns, and of course, even denying that your collision or injuries actually occurred. As Dainya has shown, you can win this fight, with the help of the two most important allies in an ICBC claim: the truth, and your lawyer.
Our firm fights and wins cases like Dainya’s every day – contact us immediately if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle collision.