In the recent and highly unusual case of Provost v. Bolton, 2017 BCSC 1608, Murphy Battista’s Alex Sayn-Wittgenstein and Paul Bosco represented the plaintiff, Richmond RCMP Corporal Quinn Provost, for injuries sustained when a stolen vehicle hit his cruiser during a high-speed chase.
This case illustrates that commercial enterprises may well have a duty of care to the public and can be assigned some liability for injuries (fault) where their failure to adhere to the required standard of care results in injuries to a member of the public. Although the facts of this case were unique, the law was previously unsettled.
The defendant, Mr. Bolton, stole a truck from Dueck Downtown Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership that had been left on the lot with the keys in the ignition, engine running, and doors unlocked. Bolton was then involved in a chase with the RCMP that resulted in three separate collisions.
Mr. Bolton did not have valid car insurance, which may have required the Plaintiff to advance an UMP (underinsured motorist protection). UMP claims are a “last resort” when there are no other resources available, and significant deductions need to be applied, sometimes leading to plaintiffs not being properly compensated.
Cpl. Provost was not directly involved in the pursuit, but he was injured while attempting to assist in the arrest when Mr. Bolton struck his unmarked car head-on. Cpl. Provost suffered a fractured neck, a fractured tibial plateau requiring surgery, and an injury to his hand.
On Cpl. Provost’s behalf, Alex and Paul argued that the employee who left the vehicle was negligent, and the dealership was vicariously liable on his behalf as his employer.
A key issue in this case was whether the dealership owed the public a duty of car, or whether this was too remote.
Alex and Paul argued the dealership had a responsibility to consider safety measures to prevent thieves from stealing cars and putting other drivers in potentially dangerous situations as this was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of their actions.
ICBC, on behalf of the dealership, claimed it owed no duty of care to any of the injured plaintiffs, as this incident was too remote.
ICBC further argued Cpl. Provost was partially responsible for his own injuries for having removed his seatbelt just prior to the collision in anticipation of pursuing Mr. Bolton on foot.
Alex and Paul argued it was entirely reasonable for Cpl. Provost to have removed his seatbelt in the circumstances.
This benchmark judgment from Mr. Justice Kelleher found the accused car thief, Mr. Bolton 85% at fault for this accident, but also held that the car dealership was 15% at fault. Justice Keller noted that it was reasonably foreseeable that the truck could be stolen given the circumstances. The truck was left running and unattended in an insecure location open to the public and the dealership was located in a high crime area of Vancouver.
The Court further held it was reasonable for Corporal Provost to have removed his seatbelt in the circumstances, and did not find him at all contributorily negligent.
The damages portion of the trial is set to continue in November.
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As personal injury lawyers we are reminded on a daily basis that distracted driving is a huge problem in our wired world and one that is costing lives.
Distracted driving is now responsible for more motor vehicle deaths than drunk driving. The neuroscience shows that drivers are distracted not just for the number of seconds that their eyes are actually off the road and looking at their phones, but that it takes several seconds after their eyes are back on the road before their minds are processing what they’re doing. While distracted driving is responsible for countless serious crashes and devastating injuries every year, it is also driving up everybody’s insurance costs through the everyday fender-benders caused by people thinking it’s okay to check their phones while driving in traffic.
The human cost of this epidemic extends far beyond the people directly injured (or killed) in accidents caused by distracted drivers. It extends to their families, friends, and communities.
In a bid to try to curb the continued rise of injuries and fatalities due to distracted driving, The Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia has teamed up with a number of partners to create the BC Coalition to End Distracted Driving. You can learn more about the Coalition and the campaign by clicking HERE.
When society finally decided it was not “okay” to drink and drive, and there was a significant social stigma attached to it (coupled with harsher penalties), drunk driving rates and fatalities went way down. We hope that this will eventually be the case with distracted driving. This will only happen if each of us commits to leaving the phone alone while we are driving and take steps to make sure our families, friends and loved ones do the same. It’s really not worth it.
Visit the website www.distracteddrivingkills.ca and share the content to your networks.
We are hoping that everybody will go to their website and have a look. Please sign up for their email list and like it on Facebook. The wider the message can be spread, the better.
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If you’ve been injured in a car accident (or any motor vehicle accident) in BC you may have heard people talk about ICBC Part 7 (no-fault) benefits. Sometimes they are called ICBC no-fault benefits, ICBC accident benefits and sometimes just “Part 7 benefits.”
Start by having a look at this great Q+A video put together by the talented folks at Spinal Cord Injury BC. Kristina Shelden, one of our dedicated Resources Coordinators at the Personal Injury Resource Centre, interviews Murphy Battista partner Scott Stanley about the basics every injured person should know when it comes to ICBC Part 7 benefits.
You can find further information on ICBC Part 7 benefits in Murphy Battista lawyer Kevin Gourlay’s presentation for the PIRC Seminar Series HERE. For more detail information you can download our Laymen’s Guide to ICBC Part 7 Benefits or you are always welcome to contact any one of our three offices to speak to one of our lawyers.
If you enjoyed this video and found it useful you might want to check out the other videos on SCI BC’s Youtube Channel.
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Recently, CBC News featured a couple from Mission, B.C., who have been locked in an ongoing dispute with their insurance company after a routine claim escalated into an all-out repair disaster. Also, the couple alleges that contractors recommended by the insurance company caused close to a million dollars worth of damage to their home, which they believe it is no longer safe to live in.
Murphy Battista LLP’s own Scott Stanley spoke to CBC’s Go Public and cautions homeowners to do their due diligence when it comes to using what insurance companies sometimes call “preferred vendors.” Scott pointed out that the “preferred vendor” terminology can be misleading. The key is the criteria that insurance companies use to select their preferred vendors. Scott cautions that the select process is frequently based not on how good a vendor may be in their chosen trade, but rather on how cheaply they perform repairs. You have to remember that insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Paying out claims (claim costs) affect the bottom line. Therefore, if there’s a way to keep repair costs low it stands to reason they may be inclined to opt for the cheapest solution. Best practice is to do your homework and check out the vendor on your own before agreeing to use them.
After making an initial claim, Scott advises homeowners to consider their options. If a preferred vendor is suggested, take steps to make sure you check them out thoroughly to make sure you are getting quality workmanship. You also have the option of seeking a loan from your bank, paying up front for repairs using a contractor of your choice, and then submitting the claim to your insurance company for reimbursement. This can involve obtaining several quotes from different companies, then receiving the approval of the insurance company before starting repairs. As Scott mentions the claims process can take up to 6 months, further delaying repairs causing undue stress on the homeowners: “Although it’s a good technical process to resolve your legal issues, it’s not a good practical resolution to your insurance claim,” he says.
While this Go Public investigation sheds light on the vulnerabilities of homeowner insurance claims, it’s important to talk to a professional insurance lawyer who will be able to guide you through the legalities of the insurance claims process. Contact Murphy Battista LLP for a free consultation to discuss effective ways to maximize your chances of receiving full coverage.
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Information provided in our blog posts is not intended to be legal advice.
The outcome of every legal proceeding will vary according to the facts and unique circumstances in each individual case. References to successful case results where the lawyers at Murphy Battista LLP have acted for clients are not necessarily a guarantee or indicative of future results.