Low Velocity Accidents And Injury Compensation
Imagine sitting in your vehicle stopped at a red light and getting rear ended by another vehicle travelling at a very slow speed. This type of accident may cause very little damage to the vehicles involved and it may appear, at least at first glance, to be a very minor accident. Often times the parties will escape without injury; however, just because an accident occurs at a low speed does not mean that injuries cannot be caused. In fact, people can and are injured in low speed accidents in much the same way as they are injured in accidents that occur at higher speeds.
If you are injured in a low speed accident ICBC may advise you that you are not entitled to injury compensation because of the low speed nature of the accident and minimal property damage. ICBC will often refer to this type of accident as a “low velocity” accident. It is important to realize that soft tissue and other injuries may occur at any speed and that these injuries can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life. Furthermore, simply because ICBC might initially deny your claim for compensation does not mean you are not entitled to it.
ICBC may have an internal policy regarding low velocity accidents and injury compensation but the law in British Columbia ultimately governs these situations. The Courts have made it clear that as long as an injured party can prove that their injuries were caused by the motor vehicle accident, speed is irrelevant. In the case of Gordon v. Palmer, the plaintiff sustained soft tissue injuries as a result of a low speed accident where each vehicle sustained very minor damages. The judge in that case confirmed that there is no legal principle to support the idea that when an accident occurs at low speeds and causes minimal damage, a person cannot be injured. This notion may be relied upon by ICBC to initially deny compensation to an injured person, but it is not one that is supported by our laws and not something our courts will uphold.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have been injured in a low velocity accident you should speak to a lawyer about any position put forward by ICBC regarding your entitlement to injury compensation.