Does Not Having Winter Tires Affect My ICBC Claim?
If you are making an ICBC compensation claim, the fact that you did not have winter tires on your vehicle may impact the amount of compensation you are awarded.
Winter tires and ICBC claims
The law in British Columbia requires drivers to have winter tires (or all season mud and snow tires) on their vehicles from October 31 to March 31. These should be in good condition and have at least 3.5mm of tread depth.
If your tires do not meet these requirements and you are involved in a motor vehicle accident during the winter months, you might be concerned about your ability to make claim. Some people think they will automatically be blamed for the accident. Others assume that while the other driver is clearly at fault, their ability to claim compensation will be revoked.
However, these assumptions are incorrect. You are still entitled to make a claim if the accident was not your fault. But you may have to accept a degree of responsibility. ICBC says:
‘Driving without winter tires does not void your insurance if you have a claim. It also won’t mean you’re automatically at-fault in a crash. However, if you get in a crash where winter tires could have helped, not having them may affect whether – or how much – you are at fault.’
It all comes down to the notion of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence means that although you are not at fault for the accident, your actions contributed towards your injuries in some way.
There are lots of examples of contributory negligence in the context of ICBC claims. A common example is not wearing a seatbelt. In these cases, ICBC may agree that while you did not cause the accident, you contributed towards the extent of your injuries by failing to obey the law.
The same theory can be applied to winter tires. In other words, ICBC may concede that the other driver caused the accident. But it may also argue that you would have sustained lesser injuries, had your vehicle been fitted with winter tires.
If the court accepts that you are partly liable, then you can expect your compensation settlement to be reduced.
What if I’m at fault for the accident?
Of course, if you are to blame for the accident, you cannot make a personal injury compensation claim. But you can still claim ICBC Part 7 benefits, otherwise known as ‘no fault benefits’.
But remember, you are not automatically at fault for a motor vehicle accident, just because you were not using winter tires when you should have been. Liability is decided by a number of factors. If you are uncertain as to whether or not you could be entitled to pursue a compensation claim, contact us for expert legal advice.