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ACCIDENT BENEFITS FOR CYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS

Craig was cycling in the curb lane of a Vancouver street, when his right handlebar nicked the back of a wide parked trailer. He fell, and the wheels of a truck passing him in the centre lane ran over his legs, crushing them. The driver of the vehicle was not to blame for the accident.

In another case, a woman pedestrian was struck in a crosswalk in Greater Vancouver by a driver insured in California.

What payment or compensation was there to cover the cyclist’s and pedestrian’s injuries?

If you’re hurt in a car crash as a driver or passenger, you’re generally entitled to receive certain “accident benefits” from ICBC, no matter who is to blame for the accident. (If someone else is at fault for the collision, you can also recover additional “tort” compensation for your loss – this is different from the no-fault accident benefits discussed here.) You can even usually get no-fault accident benefits if the accident occurs elsewhere in Canada or in the U.S. You can receive up to $150,000 for medical and rehabilitation expenses, up to 75% of your lost gross wages to a maximum of $300 a week, and up to $145 a week in homemaker benefits.

Now, in many situations, an injured cyclist or pedestrian can receive these accident benefits too. You’re entitled if you’re a BC resident with a BC driver’s licence or ICBC insurance, you live with a family member or roommate who has a BC driver’s licence or insurance, you’re a BC resident hit by an uninsured vehicle, or you are hit by a BC-insured vehicle. So even if you don’t own a car, but happen to have a driver’s licence – or simply live with someone else who has a licence – you’re entitled to receive accident benefits. According to ICBC, the idea is that the coverage is to apply to as many people as possible who fall within the insurance ambit.

But Craig turned out to be part of a minority not entitled to these no-fault accident benefits. He happened to be struck by an Ontario-insured truck. The facts of his case unfortunately didn’t put him within the class of victims to whom accident benefits are payable. (It’s assumed he didn’t have a driver’s licence either, as otherwise he would have been eligible for benefits.) And no one was to blame for his accident, so he couldn’t get any tort compensation either.

The female pedestrian, on the other hand, belonged to the class of victims entitled to recover ICBC benefits. Even though she was also hit by a vehicle from outside BC, she received ICBC accident benefits because her son, who lived with her, had ICBC insurance.

Having a BC driver’s licence – even if you get around by walking, bus or bicycle – is therefore a pretty cheap form of insurance, and worth considering if you don’t have a car or don’t live with someone who does. And if you’re injured and eligible for no-fault accident benefits, make sure you claim them; ICBC deducts this amount (even if you didn’t claim and receive benefits) from any additional tort compensation you may recover.

Janice Mucalov, LL.B. for Gertsoyg & Company. This column provides information only and must not be relied on for legal advice. Please call Gertsoyg & Company at (604) 602-3066 for a free legal consultation concerning your particular case.