Ben Bolliger was shocked to open the mail last week and see a bill from ICBC for $3,752.01.
The amount is what ICBC hopes to get back after paying to fix a windshield and hood damaged when a driver crashed into Bolliger while he was on his bicycle last summer.
The driver had run a stop sign while Bolliger was crossing the intersection at West 7th Avenue and Willow Street in Vancouver, the cyclist said.
“(The driver) contests that, and that’s his prerogative, but my bike was snapped in half and I was thrown probably 45 feet onto a bunch of rocks,” he said. “My helmet was decimated.
“My right arm was totally broken and I’ll never have full range of motion in that arm again. My foot was broken, they pulled about 10 pieces of his windshield out of my back and that took close to 100 stitches and staples.”
He suffered no head or back injuries, but he was off work for almost four months.
“But before ICBC would cover my wages, they made me exhaust every hour of sick time I have, every hour of vacation time, told me to apply for medical EI, and then said they would cover my wages up to 80 per cent.”
Bolliger, a project manager in public health, was working from his Fairview Slopes home office because of COVID and had been on his way to grab lunch on Granville Island.
It’s a cautionary tale for cyclists and pedestrians alike since B.C. introduced no-fault insurance in 2020, a personal-injury and ICBC-claims lawyer said on Wednesday.
“Cyclists and pedestrians probably get the shortest end of the stick because they’re not paying for car insurance anyway, but drivers can pay less for car insurance now,” said Erik Magraken. “All of the rights of pedestrians and cyclists have been taken away following a crash, as people such as Ben are learning in a very harsh lesson.”
Bolliger’s case offers a teachable moment about what no-fault — or enhanced care, as ICBC calls it — really is, Magraken added.
Say, for example, a pedestrian jumps out without warning in front of a moving car and causes damage to the vehicle. The pedestrian would be responsible for the physical damage to the vehicle under no-fault.
However, and keeping in mind only one side has been presented, if Bolliger’s account of the crash is accurate, Magraken said, “he is not at fault and ICBC has no business trying to get that money back from him for replacing that windshield and fixing some paint damage or whatever.
“He is not responsible if a vehicle runs a stop sign and plows him over. My guess is ICBC withdraws it.”
The letter Bolliger received, dated March 18, cites the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, which gives ICBC the right to recover costs and reads in part: “Our customer has reported this crash, and as noted in our previous correspondence, you are responsible for any resulting damage or injury sustained by our insured.
“You were driving an uninsured vehicle at the time of the loss. This means you do not have insurance coverage for this loss and must repay the cost of our insured’s claim.”
The letter gives him until April 2 to respond before the matter goes to ICBC’s account services department, and then thanks him for his attention to the matter.
ICBC did not make anyone available to speak but did release a statement saying the corporation has asked Bolliger for consent to discuss his claim but that consent has not being provided.
“After a crash, our first priority is to ensure any party who is injured gets all of the care and recovery treatments they need, which any road user — including cyclists — are entitled to,” the statement says, and Bolliger said he is satisfied with ICBC’s co-ordinating of his treatments, which have been sundry:
• One surgery, with another a maybe pending.
• 26 physio sessions.
• Seven followups with a surgeon and X-rays at Vancouver General Hospital.
• A CT-scan.
• Ten functional rehab sessions.
• Two splints.
“We investigate every crash to determine who is responsible. In assessing any claim, we review all of the evidence presented to us in order to come to a fair decision,” ICBC’s statement says. “This would include reports from the drivers involved, witness statements and police reports if available.”
Bolliger can dispute the responsibility and appeal to the civil resolution tribunal, but perhaps as the lawyer Magraken suggested, he might not need to.
As Bolliger spoke with a reporter Wednesday afternoon, his inbox dinged and up popped an email from ICBC.
“Oh wow,” he said. “They want to talk, that’s interesting.
“I’m so … pissed off, I cannot believe it came to this, that the ball only got rolling at this point.”
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