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Expert Forensic Engineer Report Inadmissible if Based on Inadequate Scientific Foundation

In Young v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia the plaintiff brought an action as a result of a car accident. The plaintiff was sideswiped into a concrete barrier by an oncoming car that crossed the centerline. The accident caused significant damage to the left side and right rear of the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff sued ICBC in the place of the other driver, who was never identified.

ICBC argued that the accident was not a hit-and-run, but rather a single car accident. ICBC served an expert report by a forensic engineer who based his opinion on photographs and police evidence. The expert concluded that the damage to the driver’s side of the plaintiff’s vehicle was caused by the plaintiff colliding with the rock retainer wall on the southbound shoulder and that the damage to the right rear of the plaintiff’s vehicle was likely caused by contact with the concrete barrier on the northbound shoulder. The expert concluded that none of the vehicle damage was caused by the plaintiff having collided with another vehicle.

The plaintiff applied for an order that ICBC’s expert report was inadmissible. The plaintiff argued that the report was not based on any scientific analysis, measurements, or research, and was comprised primarily of argument and speculation. The expert failed to visit the scene and relied only on Google Maps. The expert failed to take any measurements, view the vehicle, or cite any accident information, statistics, or testing. The plaintiff argued that the report failed to satisfy the criteria that govern the admissibility of expert reports as set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v Mohan, [1994] 2 SCR 9 and White Burgess Langille Inman v Abbott and Halliburton Co., 2015 SCC 23.

In granting the order, the BC Supreme Court ruled that the expert report was based on an inadequate scientific foundation. There was little information and no data to support the conclusions reached by the expert. Accordingly, a number of important relevant questions remained unanswered. The Court held it would be “unsafe” to admit the report. Thus, while the expert report was found to be relevant, the Court concluded it was unreliable and thus inadmissible.

Case law summary provided by Amy Coad