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BCCA reaffirms objective standard for what a reasonable person “ought to have known”

Schoenhalz v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia 2017 BCCA 289 affirms that the determination of what a reasonable person “ought to have known” is meant to be an objective standard.

The plaintiff, Schoenhalz, was a 17 year old passenger in a vehicle being driven by an unlicensed, 15 year old driver, that was subsequently involved in a single-car accident. The owner of that vehicle had not consented to it being driven. Following the accident, the plaintiff sought to recover against ICBC pursuant to the uninsured motorist provisions of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act. This was successful at the trial level, with a finding that the plaintiff was not barred from recovering because he “knew or ought to have known” that the vehicle was being driven without consent, due to her incredibly young age.

An appeal by ICBC was allowed by the Court of Appeal. The Court found that a reasonable person “ought to have known” and in fact, would have known, that there had been no consent to the vehicle being driven by an unlicensed 15 year old, and that there was no public policy reason to hold the plaintiff to a lower standard. The Court found that if the plaintiff did not know, then she “ought to have known,” and set aside the order granted by the trial judge.

Case law summary by Matthew Wehrung