A B.C. man says he’s being sued for damages stemming from a car crash that he argues was caused by an aggressive driver, but claims ICBC is not interested in seeing the dash cam video that proves it.
The incident occurred during the early morning commute along Abbotsford’s Huntingdon Road in October 2015. It all began when John Kollar noticed a pickup truck coming up behind him.
“This guy’s hauling, he was really coming," Kollar explained as he showed CTV News the video. In the video, the truck’s headlights clearly light up the interior of Kollar’s Ford Focus.
The driver of the pickup truck appears to make two attempts to pass on a double solid line but drops back twice, swerving into Kollar’s lane, forcing him to steer to the right to avoid being swiped.
Then, on a third attempt, the driver of pickup truck passes directly in front of Kollar and slams on the brakes in a 50 kilometre zone. The truck driver’s door opens and he starts to get out.
“No interior light at all. I had a suspicion he was coming out with a weapon. That’s what was going through my head,” said Kollar. “There was going to be an altercation. There was no other reason he was getting out of his vehicle. There’s two choices there, stay and find out what’s going to happen or leave.”
Kollar said he reacted out of fear and instinctively pulled around to pass, and says he didn’t see an oncoming car at that exact moment until it was too late, hitting it head on.
He says the driver of the other car was up and walking around after the crash and didn’t appear to be seriously hurt.
But nearly two years later, the driver Kollar struck filed a lawsuit against him claiming all kinds of injuries. Kollar only had $200,000 in liability insurance at the time and he could be on the hook personally because ICBC placed all the blame on him.
“I believe he’s 100 per cent responsible,” Kollar told CTV News Vancouver.
However, the pickup truck didn’t stick around.
Kollar says Abbotsford police gave him a ticket for ‘passing without a clear view’ and says it was only after he showed the dash cam video to the police officer that the driver of the pickup truck was tracked down and issued tickets for 'driving without due care and attention' and for 'leaving the scene of an accident'.
Abbotsford police wouldn’t confirm to CTV News whether another driver was ticketed in the accident.
Kollar said he talked to ICBC after accident to explain what had happened and offered up the dash cam video.
“She’s like oh, let me talk to my supervisor and see. And I guess the supervisor must have been right there, cause I hear this, no,” he said.
Criminal defence lawyer Kyla Lee says ICBC has a duty to consider all the evidence.
“That’s unjust,” she said.
CTV News showed Lee the video and she believes it was an obvious case of road rage and that the driver was responsible for the chain of events.
“This driver of the pickup truck creates the situation that resulted in harm. He stopped unlawfully in the middle of the road way. He passed on a double solid line, clearly out of aggression and he was getting out his vehicle to instigate only what I could assume was violence or a potentially violent encounter,” she said.
It all happened in a matter of seconds and Betrand Sager, a doctoral student from Simon Fraser University who studies driver behavior, says sometimes there isn't time to consider all the possible options.
“We find that on average people have a 1 and a half second reaction time to an event that’s happening in front of them,” said Sager.
Abbotsford police told CTV News that when you encounter a potential road rage situation you should not engage, and instead:
- pull over where and when it is safe to do so
- pull into a passing lane
- pull off on another road, away from the aggressive driver.
ICBC wouldn’t comment on Kollar's case because of a pending lawsuit. However, when asked about video evidence, the insurer responded with an email stating, “We will consider all evidence that we obtain during our investigation.”
But Lee wasn’t surprised to hear that ICBC didn’t want to see the video when Kollar offered it, adding often times outside lawyers for ICBC are unaware of all the evidence.
“I think this happens a surprising amount with ICBC, that they get evidence that’s not properly looked at or examined in accident cases,” Lee said.
She says outside lawyers rely on the information given to them by ICBC investigators.
“So if ICBC tells them not to look at something or doesn’t provide them with information that they determine through their own investigation that it’s irrelevant, it never comes into the hands of a lawyer who can make a better legal judgement than ICBC about the impact and the importance of that evidence."
CTV News sent ICBC links to the dash cam video, to the lawyer handling the case for the Crown corporation and to counsel representing the other driver who is now suing Kollar for her injuries.
“Now that this is on their radar, ICBC should be looking into the ownership of the truck, finding out who was driving at the time and adding that person to the litigation as a 3rd party,” Lee explained.