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ICBC 'acted unreasonably and improperly' assessing blame in Burnaby crash: tribunal

Steven Cheng took ICBC to the Civil Resolution Tribunal after the insurer found him 75 per cent at fault for a crash on Hastings Street by Ellesmere Avenue last June.

ICBC “acted improperly and unreasonably” in assigning blame for a crash at a Burnaby intersection last June, according to the province’s Civil Resolution Tribunal.

Steven Cheng took the insurer to the tribunal after it assigned him 75 per cent of the blame for a crash at the intersection of Hastings Street and Ellesmere Avenue on June 2, 2022, according to a tribunal ruling Thursday.

Cheng had been parked on Hastings facing west just before the intersection.

He had pulled his vehicle into the middle lane and begun to cross the intersection when he collided with a vehicle that turned left onto Ellesmere in front of him.

Cheng had dashcam footage of the crash and ICBC got statements from Cheng, the other driver and two independent witnesses.

The insurer then found him 75 per cent at fault for the crash.

But Cheng argued he wasn’t responsible for the crash at all and applied to the tribunal to overturn the assessment.

Cheng said he had already been established in his lane of travel after pulling out from his parking spot, and that the other driver had “abruptly turned left in front of him, causing the accident.”

He also argued ICBC hadn’t properly considered the statement of one witness who had said the other driver had been driving “extremely fast” and “made a sharp left turn.”

That witness had also said the other driver had been using a cell phone and remained on the phone when they got out of the vehicle after the crash.

In the tribunal ruling Thursday, CRT vice-chair Andrea Ritchie noted ICBC’s responsibility assessment and attached claim notes didn’t reference that witness’s statement but did reference the statement of the other witness who had said Cheng had “suddenly accelerated” from his curbside parking spot and collided with the other vehicle.

That statement, however, contained inaccuracies about where the other vehicle had come from, according to the ruling.

There was also no evidence ICBC ever followed up on whether the other driver had been on the phone during the crash, Ritchie noted.

She concluded ICBC “did not properly or reasonably consider (the other witness’s) statement when investigating the accident and assessing fault.”

But Ritchie concluded Cheng was partially to blame as well.

She said the dashcam footage showed he was still changing lanes from the parking lane to the straight-through travel lane as he crossed the intersection and collided with the other vehicle.

He also crossed a solid line contrary to the Motor Vehicle Act.

In the end, Ritchie split the blame equally between the drivers.

“I have found ICBC acted improperly and unreasonably and that Mr. Cheng is less responsible than ICBC found him,” stated the ruling.

She ordered ICBC to reimburse Cheng’s tribunal fees and ordered the insurer to amend its assessment to reflect Cheng was 50 per cent responsible for the accident.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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