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ICBC looks at anti-distracted driving technology

Friday, April 7th, 2017

As part of ICBC and the B.C. government’s continued commitment to reducing distracted driving, today ICBC posted a Request for Information (RFI) on B.C. Bid for market research and technology aimed at reducing distracted driving.

ICBC is interested in understanding what technological solutions are available in the marketplace to limit or prevent driver distraction resulting from the use of personal electronic devices while driving.

Exploring available anti-distracted driving technology is just one possible way to address the problem of drivers using personal electronic devices. ICBC and government remain committed to finding ways to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities caused by distracted driving.

Last month, ICBC, government and police launched a month-long distracted driving campaign to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.

In support, enhanced police enforcement targeting distracted drivers was increased and Cell Watch volunteers were roadside in support of the campaign. B.C. drivers can also show their support by displaying a ‘not while driving’ decal on their vehicle, available for free at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices.

Quotes:

Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
“Keeping British Columbians safe on the road is our number one focus,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Exploring new anti-distracted driving solutions in the marketplace aims to do just that, while staying current in today’s digital world. But despite our best efforts it starts with drivers committing to driving distractions-free.”

Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
“Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car crash fatalities in B.C. – and each one of them is 100% preventable. Our tough penalties are driving home the message that distracted driving will cost you, but when lives are at stake, it’s just as important to look at all preventative options, like new technology, so we can keep our roads safe.”

Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO
“We’re looking at every option to deter distracted driving including the potential use of new technologies,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO. “We understand the temptations of glancing at a ringing phone or received text message while on the road, so we’re exploring every option to prevent distracted driving. ICBC’s rates are under considerable pressure from a significant increase in crashes and we’re doing all we can to keep people safe and rates as low as possible.”


Video Surveillance Helps Deflate Personal Injury Claim

Friday, April 7th, 2017

In the world of personal injury lawsuits, video surveillance usually amounts to hours of filming benign activity entirely consistent with a Plaintiff’s known injuries.  Occasionally, however, video helps capture images inconsistent with a Plaintiff’s presentation.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, with such an outcome.

In today’s case (Ma v. Haniak) the Plaintiff was involved in three collisions and sued for damages.  Fault was admitted by the Defendant motorists.  The Plaintiff was self-represented and sought approximately $1.4 million in damages.  The Court largely rejected the Plaintiff’s claims and awarded a small fraction of her sought damages.  In reaching the conclusion that the Plaintiff’s claim was exaggerated Mr. Justice Armstrong noted as follows when reviewing video surveillance evidence:

[114]     The defendants tendered video surveillance of Ms. Ma from 2007, 2009 and 2011.

[115]     On September 21, 2007, Ms. Ma was observed working with her brother in their newspaper delivery business. Mr. Maung is seen loading the car with the newspapers. She appears to move without any restrictions in her range of movement and appears to be flexible and capable of moving bundles of newspapers. Although she shows no overt signs of pain, it is not possible to ascertain her actual condition from the video.

[116]     Ms. Ma was able to crouch down, reach in and manually rearrange paper in her car and move several paper bundles.

[117]     Mr. Maung appears physically capable of moving bundles of newspapers to the vehicle from nearby pallets.

[118]     Between October 29, 2009 and November 2, 2009, Ms. Ma was observed and filmed by a private investigator. She was seen driving, entering and exiting her Mazda MPV without any apparent difficulty. Her movements seemed unrestricted and flexible; she carried a cane but did not use the cane to stabilize her walking or support herself.

[119]     In August 2011, more than one-and-a-half years after MVA #3, Ms. Ma was observed and filmed by a private investigator; the recording lasts between 30 and 40 minutes of film.

[120]     At Ms. Ma’s examination for discovery, she testified that she suffered pain when carrying things. She said she avoided carrying items and used the basket on her walker when necessary.

[121]     Nevertheless, on August 9, 2011 Ms. Ma was attending an appointment with Dr. Magrega and used her walker when entering and leaving the office. Later that day she is seen walking and carrying items at a McDonald’s restaurant without any apparent limitation or need for assistance. On that day Ms. Ma is seen exiting her vehicle and walking towards a restaurant with a normal gait, moving at a normal speed and without the benefit of a walker or wheelchair. She collects food from a counter and carries a tray with a drink on top and a separate bag to a table inside the restaurant; she then walks outside to her car carrying a drink and a bag for a person in the vehicle. Ms. Ma’s comportment in this video is significantly different than her comportment at trial. At trial, she used a walker to move in the room and to the witness box. She did not demonstrate the marked flexibility and physical movement that appears on the video.

[122]     What is observed on the video demonstrates significantly less restricted movement than she described in her testimony.

[123]     She testified that when using the sliding doors to enter her van, she suffered severe pain and relied on family members and a cane to open and close the doors when possible. On the date of the video, she is seen freely opening and closing the doors, leaning in and delivering food to others who had not come into the restaurant. The video of the plaintiff was dramatically different from her self-described limitations.

[124]     She testified that if she bumped into a person while being out and about, she would experience excruciating pain; she is seen to be bumped while in the restaurant lineup and shows no evidence of excruciating pain.

[125]     On the video, she was clearly functioning without evidence of pain or limitation in her movement. She walked briskly and without the use of a cane or walker. Her facial expression showed no evidence of pain or discomfort.

[126]     I except that surreptitious video presentations of injured plaintiffs can be misleading; in the circumstances of this case I am satisfied that Ms. Ma’s physical movements on August 9, 2011 were entirely incongruous with her testimony concerning her physical ability and dexterity at the time and since.

[127]     Her only explanation for the apparent differences between her testimony and the video presentation was that she was “tricked” at the discovery. She also said that the limitations in her ability to move or walk distances without a walker do not become apparent until she has been active for approximately ten minutes.

[315]     I agree with the defence that the plaintiff’s claim concerning the level of pain she has experienced after the accidents is wholly inconsistent with her appearance at trial and on the surveillance videos. Although the August 2011 video was taken almost five years before trial, the plaintiff’s examination for discovery evidence, which was given within two weeks of the video, is telling. It contradicted the plaintiff’s appearance in the video surveillance films. Her testimony and use of a walker at trial was consistent with her evidence at the examination for discovery but equally inconsistent with observations of her in the various surveillance videos. From these inconsistencies, I make an adverse finding about Ms. Ma’s credibility.


Tracking phones: Insurers deny claims based on doubtful data

Friday, April 7th, 2017

By Dave Collins

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

HARTFORD, Conn. _ It took Jaclyn Bentley nearly three years to prove she didn’t burn her house down for the insurance money, allegations she and her lawyer say were born of the junk practice of analyzing cellphone tower data.

She was camping with her husband and co-workers at least 17 miles from her Iowa home in May 2014 when it burned down, she says. An investigator for State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. said cell tower data showed Bentley’s phone was 5 to 12 miles from the campsite in the direction of her home just after the fire was reported the suggestion being she could have been heading back to camp after starting the blaze.

Her claim was denied, and she was arrested on arson and insurance fraud charges. But she was acquitted after questioning State Farm’s analysis of the tower data, and she has a lawsuit pending against the company for failing to pay her claim.

Despite acquittals like Bentley’s and expert testimony that cellphone tower data should not be used to pinpoint people’s locations, insurance companies continue to use the information to deny claims by casting doubt that customers were where they said they were. The problem, experts say, is that a cellphone can be up to 20 miles away when it “pings,” or connects with, a tower.

“I’ve gone through … hell,” said Bentley, 37, of Clinton, Iowa, who cares for people with brain injuries and mental illness. “It’s ridiculous what happened. You’re innocent until proven guilty. I’ve never felt like I was treated like I was innocent. As far as the insurance company was concerned, I was guilty.”

State Farm does not comment on pending litigation or specific claims, spokesman Justin Tomczak said.

“We handle each claim on its merits and conduct a diligent investigation to determine what we owe under the policy,” he said. “That work can include many things, including phone records, that become pertinent to completing our investigation. While I cannot comment on a specific claim, I can tell you that we rarely obtain phone records.”

The records can be obtained only by a court order or a customer’s consent.

A private investigator, Tim Wilcox, chief executive of International Investigators Inc. in Indianapolis, said he believes cell tower data analysis can be fairly accurate in tracking someone’s movements, within a half-mile. He said the information is just one of many pieces of evidence needed for a strong fraud case.

Michael Cherry has testified in successful cases to free people who were imprisoned based in part on cell tower evidence. Among the early design team members of the Apollo 11 moon trip, Cherry is now chief executive of Cherry Biometrics, a computer and cellphone data analysis firm in Falls Church, Virginia.

Phones can be miles away when they ping towers, Cherry said, because calls are not simply routed to the nearest cell tower or the cell tower with the strongest signal. Rather, a number of factors decide which tower handles the call, including which has the clearest signal and is the most cost-effective, he said.

“They’re misinterpreting it, and it’s not very reliable to begin with,” said Cherry, who played no role in Bentley’s case.

Bentley, who spent three days in jail _ including her birthday _ after being arrested, said the insurance company claimed cellphones can be only up to 3 or 4 miles away when they ping towers. But she was able to disprove that claim with her cellphone records.

Hours after the fire was out and she had returned to the campground, she checked her voicemail and her phone pinged a tower near the campground. A few minutes later, her mother called her, and her phone pinged a tower back in Clinton, 17 miles away. Minutes later, her husband called her, and her phone pinged a tower about 20 miles away, she said.

That information, she believes, resulted in the not guilty verdict.

A couple Cherry is helping, Monica and Ali Almazni of Perris, California, are facing trial next month on insurance fraud charges, stemming from the theft of their car in 2013. Their insurer, Progressive, said that before the car was reported stolen, the Almaznis’ cellphones pinged a tower near where the car was later found.

The Almaznis say that Progressive’s take on the cellphone data is wrong, and that they didn’t stage the theft to get the insurance money. Cherry said the couple could have been where they said they were  Ali Almazni at a mall where the car was stolen and his wife at home based on the tower information.

Jeff Sibel, a spokesman for Progressive, said the company collects a variety of information when investigating insurance claims. He said he would check into the Almaznis’ case and provide a response, but did not follow up with The Associated Press.

Another California couple, Linda and Eric Norwood, of Hemet, said they gave up on pursuing an insurance claim for their stolen pickup after State Farm used cell tower information to insinuate they were involved. They said they couldn’t afford a lawyer to try to fight State Farm, and no criminal charges were filed against them.

Tomczak, the State Farm spokesman, declined to discuss the case.


ICBC speakers connecting with Island youth to prevent crashes and save lives during grad season

Friday, April 7th, 2017

For the 20th year, ICBC’s road safety speakers are touring B.C. high schools to share their own heart-wrenching stories with students to remind them of the tragic and life-changing consequences of taking risks while driving.

On average, three youth (aged 16 to 21) are killed and 940 injured in crashes each year on Vancouver Island.*

“Car crashes remain the number one preventable cause of death for youth in B.C.,” said Aileen Shibata, ICBC road safety program manager. “Our road safety speakers share their personal, heartbreaking stories to get teens talking about the dangers of taking risks behind the wheel and help them make safer choices.”

ICBC is committed to supporting youth in developing strong decision-making skills on the road to help prevent crashes and save lives. Over the past two decades, ICBC’s road safety speakers have been sharing their stories with approximately 50,000 B.C. high school students every year.

You can find video clips of the speakers and more details on their presentations on icbc.com. ICBC also invests in various road safety programs for students including K-10 school curriculum and B.C.’s graduated licensing program.

Editor’s Note: Media are invited to the following upcoming presentations on Vancouver Island with speakers Kevin Brooks and Heidi Cave.

South Island:

  • April 4 – Edward Milne Community School, Sooke, Heidi Cave at 2:10 p.m.
  • April 5 – Royal Bay Secondary, Victoria, Heidi Cave at 9 a.m.
  • April 5 – Spectrum Community, Victoria, Heidi Cave at 12:15 p.m.
  • April 6 – Oak Bay Secondary, Heidi Cave at 8:30 a.m
  • May 3 – Brentwood College, Mill Bay, Kevin Brooks at 6:15 p.m.
  • May 3 – Chemainus Secondary, Kevin Brooks at 9 a.m.
  • May 3 – Frances Kelsey Secondary, Mill Bay, Kevin Brooks at 12:42 p.m.
  • May 9 – Lake Cowichan Secondary, Kevin Brooks at 2:17 p.m.
  • May 10 – Cowichan Secondary, Duncan, Kevin Brooks at 9 a.m.
  • May 12 – Pacific Christian School, Victoria, Kevin Brooks at 10 a.m.

Mid-and-North Island:

  • April 3 – Port Hardy Secondary, Kevin Brooks at 8:55 a.m.
  • April 3 – North Island Secondary, Port McNeill, Kevin Brooks at 1:15 p.m.
  • April 4 – Carihi Secondary, Campbell River, Kevin Brooks at 1:35 p.m.
  • April 5 – Campbell River Christian School, Kevin Brooks at 9 a.m.
  • April 5 – Gold River Secondary, Kevin Brooks at 1 p.m.
  • April 6 – Georges P. Vanier Secondary, Courtenay, Kevin Brooks at 2 p.m.
  • April 7 – Mark R. Isfeld Senior Secondary, Courtenay, Kevin Brooks at 10:30 a.m.
  • April 10 – Alberni District Senior Secondary, Port Alberni, Kevin Brooks at 2 p.m.
  • April 10 – Ucluelet Secondary, Kevin Brooks at 8:30 a.m.
  • April 11 – Ballenas Secondary, Parksville, Kevin Brooks at 12:30 p.m.
  • April 11 – Kwalikum Secondary, Qualicum Beach, Kevin Brooks at 10 a.m.
  • April 12 – Nanaimo District Senior Secondary, Kevin Brooks at 12:30 p.m.

Please contact ICBC road safety coordinators, Colleen Woodger, at 250-414-7843 (for southern Vancouver Island) or Caroline Robinson at 250-390-5505 (mid-and-north Island) to confirm event 24 hours prior to attending, as dates and times are subject to changes. Please check in at the school upon arriving for a presentation.

*Note: Police-reported data based on the five-year average from 2011 to 2015.

Media contact

Lindsay Olsen


US – 10 word answers (or less!) to your biggest car insurance questions

Friday, April 7th, 2017

If you have questions about car insurance but not a lot of time to research, check out these brief responses to common questions.

Q: If my friend borrows my car and crashes it, whose insurance pays?

A: Yours does, because you own the car. Sorry.

Q: What are the best ways to save money on car insurance?

A: Shop around to compare car insurance rates and bundle policies.

Q: What is “bundling” of insurance?

A: It’s buying at least two policies (home, auto, personal property) from the same company.

Q: How much will my rates go up if I cause a car accident?

A: About $800 in California, for example. Increases vary by state.

Q: Who are the best car insurance companies?

A: Amica, Erie and Auto-Owners, according to NerdWallet’s rankings.

Q: Who has the cheapest auto insurance?

A: Often Geico, among the largest insurers. But shop around.

Q: I was rear-ended. The other guy says I slammed on my brakes and caused the accident. Whose fault is it?

A: The other person’s fault. Make a claim against his insurance.

Q: When do teen drivers have to be added to insurance?

A: Typically, when the teen gets a driver’s license. Save up!

Q: Is it cheaper to add teen drivers to a parent’s auto insurance or get them their own policy?

A: It’s usually cheaper to put them on a parent’s policy.

Q: Can I buy insurance in one state even though I live in another?

A: No. Buy insurance where the car is “garaged.”

Q: Do I need a driver’s license in order to buy car insurance?

A: Yes. If the license is suspended, you’ll probably be dropped.

Q: Can my auto insurer cancel me before the end of the policy?

A: Only for certain reasons, like not paying premiums or fraud.

Q: What is “full coverage car insurance”?

A: It generally means you have liability, comprehensive and collision coverage.

Q: If I have full coverage car insurance and rent a car, do I still need rental car insurance?

A: No. Your personal auto insurance usually extends to a rental.

Q: Can my auto insurer make me use a certain body shop?

A: That is barred by most states under “anti-steering” laws.

Q: Where can I make a complaint about my auto insurance company?

A: Your state department of insurance is the right place.

Amy Danise is an insurance expert at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

Source: NerdWallet is a USA TODAY content partner providing general news, commentary and coverage from around the web. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.


$110,000 Non Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Pain and Major Depressive Disorder

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic injuries sustained in three separate collisions.

In today’s case (Parhar v. Clarke) the Plaintiff was injured in three collisions that the Defendants accepted blame for.  She suffered chronic physical and psychological injuries as a result including thoracic outlet syndrome, chronic pain,  major depression and anxiety.  Her prognosis for further improvement was guarded.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $110,000 Mr. Justice Pearlman provided the following reasons:

[215]     Ms. Parhar was 27 years old at the time of the first accident and 35 at the time of trial.

[216]     The injuries she suffered in the accidents include injuries to the muscles of her neck, shoulder girdle and back with attendant muscle spasm, low back pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, persistent headaches, TMJ pain and dysfunction and soft tissue injuries to her knees and right hip.

[217]     In addition, as a result of the defendants’ negligence, the plaintiff sustained a chronic pain disorder, a major depressive disorder, a generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD.

[218]     Although there has been some improvement in the plaintiff’s condition, Ms. Parhar’s prognosis is guarded in light of the persistence of her symptoms of pain and her psychological conditions.

[219]     Further psychological counselling would assist Ms. Parhar in coping with chronic pain and managing the functions of daily living. Exercise and conditioning will probably produce further improvements to her symptoms of neck, shoulder and back pain, and may also alleviate her headaches. However, after eight years of chronic pain, it is unlikely the plaintiff will make a full recovery and probable that she will experience flares of her back and neck pain, anxiety and depressive moods indefinitely.

[227]     Taking into account the Stapley v. Hejslet factors, all of the authorities cited by counsel, the risk that the plaintiff would have suffered a recurrence of depression in any event of the accidents, and all of Ms. Parhar’s particular circumstances, I would assess her damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenities and enjoyment of life in the amount of $110,000…


Why Public Liability Insurance Is Ignored Among Insurers

Friday, April 7th, 2017

By Nicholas Kitonyi | GuruFocus.com

The insurance industry thrives on the fear of financial loss. However, those last five words have been gold coated to appear different in many ways. Some view insurance as a means of managing risk while others see it as an opportunity to get a new asset whenever the old one is wrecked. Whichever way you look at it, there is some level of fear involved.

This fear can be more intense in some sections of the insurance industry than it is in others. Auto insurance is not one of them. In fact, people are becoming very selective in the type of insurance they buy for their vehicles. Public liability insurance, on the other hand, is one of the segments that those buying insurance tend to be under intense fear. While it continues to gain popularity in the market, it is still pretty much ignored by many insurance companies. Most insurance companies incorporate public liability insurance benefits within general insurance products.

According to this definition on Be Wiser Business insurance, public liability insurance protects businesses from financial losses associated with customer lawsuits. It provides cover if a customer is injured on your premises or if you accidently damaged somebody else’s property when carrying out your work.

One of the most famous customer lawsuits was filed by Stella Liebeck against McDonald’s Corp. (MCD), in which case the jury awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages. For those unfamiliar with the lawsuit, here is a quick rundown of what transpired.

In 1992, Liebeck spilled a McDonald’s coffee in her lap, causing third-degree burns on her legs, lap and groin area. She tried to solicit McDonald’s for $20,000 to cover the skin grafts required for her injuries and other related expenses, but McDonald’s offered only $800. After going to trial in 1994, the liability suit was settled for a total of $2.86 million, including $160,000 for the jury damages.

Since then, McDonald’s has been sued by more than 700 customers in relation to the temperature of its coffee, which according to the Liebeck lawsuit ranges from 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. This is at least 40 degrees higher than in most restaurants.

There has been an increase in the number of public liability lawsuits across all business sectors, but most are not recognized as such, especially when it comes to buying insurance coverage for financial losses associated with such lawsuits. Nonetheless, the more the courts continue to rule in favor of customers, the more public liability lawsuits we are likely to see. Given the current business environment and the unerring ability of customers to bring businesses down through lawsuits, it explains why many are increasingly buying insurance against public liability.

One of the largest players in general liability insurance is Old Republic International Corp. (ORI). The company primarily focuses on general and title insurance. Public liability insurance falls under the category of general insurance at many insurance companies, and this is no different at Old Republic.

This means if the insured seeks to buy public liability insurance, then they may be forced to take up the general insurance option in these companies. Some businesses looking to buy public liability insurance try to avoid the high cost associated with paying premiums for general liability insurance, which as the name suggests covers pretty much everything. To some, the extra coverage is unnecessary, hence the need for choice. But from the perspective of an insurance company’s revenues, public liability insurance is inseparable from general liability insurance.

Old Republic International receives nearly 60% of its revenue from the general insurance business. The company notes “the majority of coverages [in general insurance business, the Old Republic General Insurance Group] are liability and workers’ compensation insurance products.” So it is clear that in most cases, the public liability insurance features are incorporated in the general liability insurance business.

Conclusion

Public liability is specific. It protects business owners and their businesses from financial losses due to injury to a member of the public on their premises because of negligence. On the other hand, general liability insurance covers payments for bodily injury, property damage, libel, slander or judgments and fees involved in defending lawsuits from customers, employees or even shareholders.

As such, while public liability insurance is cheaper, it also leaves businesses and their owners exposed to other potential lawsuits that can lead to substantial financial losses. This explains why most insurance companies are reluctant to offer public insurance liability as a standalone product to customers.

Disclosure: No position in stocks mentioned in this article.


What the federal privacy watchdog did after an insurer pried into crash victim’s credit rating

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Tom Blackwell | National Post

An insurance company handling a car-crash victim’s accident claim violated the senior citizen’s privacy rights by accessing his credit rating for no good reason, the federal Privacy Commissioner has ruled.

The Personal Insurance Company argued it needs such information to help weed out fraudulent claims, but the privacy watchdog said there was little evidence that examining clients’ credit worthiness helps counter insurance cheating.

The decision this month dealt a blow to what appears to be a common industry practice.

In fact, fraud likely has little to do with why insurers seek access to credit scores, charged advocate Rhona DesRoches, who heads the Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform.

She suggested that companies want instead to gauge the claimant’s financial status to help determine how little they can get away with paying out.

“This is very worrisome,” DesRoches said. “Just knowing how much debt a person carries might be an indicator of what that breaking point is … If they know a person is in dire financial straits, then they know how far along that person might go before giving in to perhaps a lower settlement than they should.”

In response to the privacy commissioner’s investigation, The Personal has agreed to stop using credit scores to assess auto claims by April 22, the agency said in its decision.

The Mississauga, Ont.-based firm has also promised to review other ways it employs credit information. Ontario law bars companies from using credit ratings to help set insurance premiums, but doesn’t address other possible applications.

Joe Daly, a spokesman for The Personal, said the company accepts the report’s recommendations, but will not comment further to protect the customer’s privacy. It’s “absolutely not true” the insurer uses credit data for anything but fighting fraud, he added.

As for the rest of the industry, some companies may use credit information to “identify and detect” fraud, said Steve Kee of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, an industry trade group.

The case centres around Kal Haikola, a retired bank loans manager who was rear-ended by a Cadillac on an east-end Toronto street in November 2012. He suffered whiplash and a jaw injury, eventually obtaining $6,000 from The Personal for health-related expenses.

But just days after the crash, in an “aggressive” interview, he says an adjuster asked for consent to access his credit score. Haikola, 72, said he reluctantly agreed, still shaken up by the accident and eager to expedite the claim, but increasingly perturbed by the request. He eventually complained to the Privacy Commissioner.

The company told the commissioner’s office that it uses credit scores as one of many variables to detect fraud and to “triage” claims as they come in. By filtering out suspicious ones for further investigation, others cases are processed more rapidly and premiums kept lower, it argued.

The firm said it introduced the measure in 2012 because of high rates of auto-insurance scamming, fuelled by the growing trend of staged accidents and fraudulent suppliers, the firm said.

But despite providing statistics to back up its argument, The Personal “failed to demonstrate that the collection and use of credit scores is necessary and effective in preventing and detecting fraud,” said the agency.

The Personal also did not obtain “meaningful” consent from Haikola, and is generally not open about its use of credit information in the claims process, said the commissioner.

Haikola suggested the practice is “rampant,” saying private investigators hired by another firm obtained his credit score after a crash in the late 1980s, and he’s heard similar stories from a neighbour who had an accident recently, and another from a patient at his rehabilitation clinic.

He echoed DesRoches’ allegation that companies probably use credit information to “low-ball” accident payouts.

“It’s discrimination against the poor,” said Haikola. “If you were struggling, and for some reason you became unemployed and your unemployment benefits are about to run out, you’d say … ‘I’ll take anything.’ ”

A southern Ontario woman who was knocked unconscious and suffered brain damage in a 2012 collision on a wintery highway – leaving her needing glasses and special hearing aids – says an adjuster asked her days after the crash for consent to get credit information.

She interpreted the request as a suggestion her claim was bogus.

“I said, ‘You think I did this because I need money?’ I had over $200,000 in the bank,” said the woman, who asked not to be named because her case is still before the courts. “Why the hell would I need a car accident to get money?”


Court Dismisses Injury Claim in “Slow-Moving Parking Lot Accident”

Friday, April 7th, 2017

I have spent much time documenting judicial treatment of the so-called ‘low velocity impact’ defence.  In short, courts routinely accept motorists can be injured in low velocity collisions.  Despite this, courts occasionally dismiss an injury claim involving modest forces.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, with such an outcome.

In today’s case (Sandhu v. Raveendran) the Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband which was involved in a parking lot collision with another vehicle with the Court noting “the contact between two vehicles was relatively superficial”.

The Plaintiff alleged injury.  The Court rejected this noting that “ I find a lack of convincing evidence that this minor, slow-moving parking lot accident caused the plaintiff any compensable injury“.

In dismissing her injury claim Mr. Justice Brown provided the following reasons:

[53]         I will now discuss the evidence and state my findings:

1.       The Chevrolet was stationary at impact.

2.       The defendant, Mr. Raveendran, started the Honda. He took his foot off the brake. The tires slowly completed their circumference, two to three turns of its tires, before the right side of the Honda contacted the left driver-side door of the Chevrolet.

3.       The vehicles were at a slight angle on impact.

4.       The point of impact was not bumper to bumper. There is no indication the solid substructures of the vehicles were involved. The visible damage was not deeply intrusive into the bodies of the vehicles; a fairly shallow dent of the surface of the driver’s door of the Chevrolet and some surface scraping of the right rear panel and leading edge of the bumper on the Honda is all that is noteworthy.

5.       The plaintiff relied on the fact that the cost of repairing the Honda was $1,200 and the Chevrolet, written off, $1,500. Considering the cost of vehicle repairs generally, these figures do not denote significant impacts, rather, more likely, in my opinion, the costs of materials and labour for prepping, taping, sanding, painting, et cetera. There is no indication of parts replacement or significant structural damage requiring repair.

6.       There is no evidence either vehicle was moved from its path or static position, or moved about by the impact.

7.       The plaintiff complained only of a jolt, the nature of which she had difficulty explaining, but she denied her body came into contact with the interior of the car or that she was moved about.

8.       The video surveillance segments, viewed in congress with the photographs of the vehicle damages, which the court viewed in the range of 10 times, convey a strong impression of a very minor impact, most unlikely to cause injuries, let alone ones requiring a recovery period of three to four years.

9.       The plaintiff had recovered from the injuries related to her previous accident.

10.     The plaintiff reported immediate onset of symptoms, but instead of reporting to Dr. Kaler’s office about 100 feet away, or to the hospital, drove to the ICBC Claim Centre to report the Accident.

11.     The plaintiff submits the fact she attended physiotherapy sessions after the birth of her child argues against invented symptoms. But as I mentioned earlier, there is no evidence showing for what reasons she attended the clinics, the nature of the treatments, the symptoms reported or observations made. Dr. Kaler had clinically noted concerns of morbid obesity; and, as the plaintiff granted, giving birth to a child can cause physical problems. I cannot find a link between the need for physiotherapy and the alleged trauma.

12.     As for depression, Dr. Kaler’s evidence shows the plaintiff earlier had been concerned about becoming pregnant again. The basis for linking this minor accident to alleged depression, say, stemming from a chronic pain syndrome, is not present. There is no diagnosis of chronic pain, for example, to generate a logical medical link between physical trauma and depression usually seen the cases.

13.     It is not plausible, and there is no persuasive medical legal evidence to show, that it would take the plaintiff three years to recover from trauma allegedly caused by the very modest forces involved in this parking accident.

[54]         Of course, parking lot collisions may cause significant vehicle damage and some bodily injury especially when one or both parties are driving too fast. This is not one of those cases. One car was standing still, the other rolling slowly backwards.

[55]         The plaintiff presented as a pleasant person. Her counsel submitted she was a good witness because, in effect, she stood her ground and insisted she had been injured; but that ground was also populated with many responses of not knowing and not recalling events. As for the mechanics of the injury, when impartial senses contradict what a witness with a vested interest says happened, as in this case, the former, depending on the all the circumstances, should hold greater sway.

[56]         In Butler v. Blaylock Estate, [1981] B.C.J. No. 31 (S.C.), McEachern C.J. stated at paras. 18-19:

[18]      I am not stating any new principles when I say that the Court should be exceedingly careful when there is little or no objective evidence of continuing injury, and when complaints of pain persist for long periods extending beyond the normal or usual recovery period.

[19]      An injured person is entitled to be fully and properly compensated for any injury or disability caused by a wrongdoer. But no one can expect his fellow citizen or citizens to compensate him in the absence of convincing evidence — which could be just his own evidence if the surrounding circumstances are consistent — that his complaints of pain are true reflections of a continuing injury.

[57]         In this case, I find a lack of convincing evidence that this minor, slow-moving parking lot accident caused the plaintiff any compensable injury. Accordingly, the plaintiff’s claims for damages are dismissed with costs.


Street Racer Found Partly Liable for Other Vehicles Fatal Crash

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Interesting reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding a street racer partly liable for the death of a passenger in another vehicle that he did not collide with.

In today’s case (Suran v. Auckland) Cadillac and a Chrysler 300 were involved in a street race. Police subsequently blocked off the road and the driver of the Cadillac was apprehended The driver of the Chrysler backed up and drove around the road block and “proceeded down a steep embankment and dropped over a retaining wall, before finally coming to rest at the bottom of a ravine.”. A passenger in the vehicle died when”he was unable to extricate himself from the vehicle when it caught fire. His body was found partially seated on the right front passenger’s seat area with his feet trapped between the right front passenger’s door and the ground.”

The passenger’s family sued and both motorists were found partly to blame with the passenger himself being faulted with 25% contributory negligence. In holding the driver of the Cadillac partly at fault for the death even though he was in police custody at the time Madam Justice Burke provided the following reasons:

[195] I conclude Mr. Marwaha in the Cadillac and Mr. Auluck in the Chrysler 300 were engaged in a common (unlawful) course of action that ultimately precipitated the catastrophic accident and death of Mr. Suran. It was reasonably foreseeable, as argued by Ms. Suran, that participation by Mr. Marwaha in a street race at high speed on a busy street would attract police attention and action, which it did. It was also reasonably foreseeable that Mr. Auluck would flee the police as he did, based on his erratic and dangerous behaviour throughout the evening.

[196] There is, therefore, sufficient proximity and foreseeability for Mr. Marwaha to be found partially liable for the accident. As he was indeed stopped by the police and could no longer participate in the race, I conclude Mr. Marwaha’s culpability for the accident lies at 10%.