Why “I Didn’t See You” Isn’t a Valid Excuse in Motor Vehicle Accidents

“Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”. These words – or words to that effect – are commonly uttered after a motor vehicle accident. So much so that an acronym has even been coined – ‘SMIDSY’. Yet this simply isn’t a valid excuse. If a driver hits another vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian due to poor observational skills, then that driver will be liable.

Not a valid excuse

As Vancouver personal injury lawyers, ‘SMIDSY’ is a scenario we see time and time again. Often, a driver hits a pedestrian at a crosswalk, or turns into the path of a cyclist or motorcyclist. Other times, the driver pulls out into oncoming traffic, seemingly oblivious to the vehicle or bike hurtling towards them.

Typically, the driver is so surprised that they get out of their vehicle and say: “I didn’t see you”. But unless the other party was breaking the rules of the road, this isn’t a justification. All road users owe a duty of care towards other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. This means taking reasonable precautions to prevent an accident and injury, such as:

  • Driving at a speed that is safe in the circumstances
  • Checking mirrors and shoulder checking before turning
  • Keeping a proper lookout for hazards before making any kind of manoeuvre, including reversing
  • Assessing the speed of oncoming traffic
  • Checking that crosswalks are clear
  • Checking for hazards when emerging from side lanes, underground parking lots and other scenarios where the field of vision is restricted
  • Adapting to adverse weather conditions, such as snow, fog, heavy rain and low sunsets

If a driver acts with due care and attention, then it should be possible to avoid a collision. Vehicles, motorcyclists, bikes and pedestrians do not appear out of thin air. If a driver is concentrating – and is fit to operate a vehicle – then they should readily identify any hazards and take action to ensure all parties remain safe.

The BC Apology Act

This is because in British Columbia, there is a piece of legislation known as the Apology Act. Not many people know about it, but it’s actually been in existence since May 2006. It states that an apology does not constitute an admission of guilt and cannot be used as evidence to prove liability. According to the law, an apology is any kind of expression of sympathy or regret. Most other Canadian provinces have since followed B.C.’s lead and now have their own versions of the Apology Act.

In practical terms, this means that if you say sorry after a motor vehicle accident, it cannot have any bearing on your case. An ICBC adjuster will decide who is responsible for the accident using evidence such as witness statements, CCTV footage and police reports. The ICBC adjuster cannot base their decision on what was said by either party following the collision. If your case goes to court, your apology cannot be used as proof of your liability. In fact, your apology cannot be raised at all.

Have you been injured by someone who “didn’t see you”?

If you have been injured by a road user who claims they didn’t see you, then you deserve financial support for your injuries. ICBC offers benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. If the other driver is convicted of a criminal offence, or your injuries are catastrophic, then you may also be entitled to make a personal injury claim.

For example, it could be that the other driver’s abilities were impaired through alcohol or drugs. It is well known that intoxicated drivers have slower reaction times. Vision can also be affected. If the driver is found to be impaired, and this caused the accident to happen, then you can pursue legal action through the courts.

It is incredible how often drivers fail to properly absorb their surroundings. We even acted for a woman who was asleep in a tent when a truck drove over the tent, pinning her arm to the ground. If something similar has happened to you, please contact us for expert legal advice. We may be able to help you claim compensation for your damages.

To speak to our Vancouver personal injury lawyers, either fill in the free online enquiry form or call us on 604 684 0040.

Go back to Blog
Go Back To Top