16 Oct Parents Liable For Accident Caused By Son Who Did Not Have A Driver’s Licence

In Block v. Schmitt, 2019 BCSC 1575, the Plaintiff was injured when her vehicle was sideswiped by a vehicle driven by the Defendant son. ICBC denied liability in this case because he did not have a valid B.C. drivers’ licence at the time of the collision, and his parents had not given him their consent to operate their vehicle.

There was no dispute that a collision occurred between the Plaintiff’s vehicle and the Defendant’s vehicle.  After impact, the Plaintiff immediately pulled over and brought her vehicle to a full stop. However, the Defendant son did not stop and a chase commenced. The police eventually caught him.

The evidence at trial established that the Defendant son failed to remain in his lane of travel, operated his vehicle in a careless manner, and failed to pay due care and attention.  The judge found that the collision was caused by his negligence.

The Defendant father testified that his son ordinarily resides in Alberta. He had broken his leg while working on the pipelines and temporarily moved in with his parents in BC while he recovered. It was the Defendant father’s evidence that his son did not have his parents’ permission to drive their car, as he did not have a valid drivers’ licence.

The Plaintiff argued that according to s. 86(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act, vicarious liability is established on proof that the driver of the vehicle was a member of the family of the owner and living with the owner at the time of the collision. In such circumstances, consent of the vehicle owner was immaterial.

The judge noted that there was no dispute that as the biological son of the owners of the vehicle, the Defendant son was a “member of the family” within the meaning of s. 86(1)(a). There was also no dispute that he was “living with” his parents at the time of the collision. He received free room and board while residing with his parents, a courtesy no doubt extended to him because he was a member of the family. There was nothing in the Motor Vehicle Act that supported the Defendants’ argument that the temporary nature of the living arrangements was a factor for consideration.

The judge found that the Defendant parents were vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their son pursuant to s. 86(1)(a) of the Motor Vehicle Act.