Canadians are known to be polite, almost too polite. We apologize for everything. Even at the scene of a car accident, our first thoughts are to say sorry – even when it isn’t our fault. If you are in a car accident in BC that is not your fault, and you hop out of the car and immediately apologize – will that jeopardize your ICBC claim? Does apologizing indicate that you are at fault in a car accident?
One of the first things an experienced car accident lawyer in BC will review on a motor vehicle accident claim is – which driver (or both) in the accident is at fault. ICBC has a set of criteria to determine the degree of fault each party has in a car collision. ICBC uses the following resources to determine fault:
- Motor Vehicle Act of BC
- The rules of the road
- Court decisions
- Previous decisions on car accident claims and settlements
But more importantly, to determine fault an adjustor will take statements, review witness accounts, read police reports and even visit the scene of the accident. You will want to have the same resources on your side, as ICBC often makes mistakes when assigning fault. It is the responsibility of your car accident lawyer to review the accident and to ensure that ICBC has indeed made the right judgment call regarding ‘at fault’. But apologizing just shouldn’t come into the equation. BC even has an important but mostly unknown act called the Apology Act. The objective of the legislation is to reduce the concerns that stating an apology could imply liability. This act specifically states that an apology does not constitute an admission of fault or liability and cannot be used as evidence of fault or liability.
It is always best to stay calm at the scene of a car accident and keep your dialogue with any other drivers or passengers to a minimum. Exchange relevant information and focus on getting witness statements. Even with the apology act and your desire to be oh, so Canadian, sorry is still best left unsaid at the scene of a car accident.