Is a BC Ferries Loader Partly Responsible for a Collision?

I've been driving trucks commercially since I was 16 (now 53) with a Class 1 since 18. Never had at an fault accident in all those years, until last month.  Guess it was bound to happen.

Now I disagree totally with ICBC's decision on it, so I'll bounce it off you for your thoughts.

I was on a BC Ferries driving my RV. As you know their employees direct loading and unloading as well as placement of vehicles. They owe a duty of care assigned by common law principals to all parties.

My RV has a large swing (pivot point) behind rear axle.

They park me in center lane but the right lane beside me they park a car.

While unloading the ship (ship is swaying from water turbulence), and under the direction of their staff, they flag me to move forward and disembark.

I motioned to flagger (control person) to watch my tail - as this in the world of trucking is the way its done - you do not move until given the ok all clear. Once again they control the movement of the vehicles.

Fast forward....

Car parked beside me gets clipped by my rear bumper as I swing out to clear side of ship. It is a scratch - probably be a $1,000 to fix by the time the dust settles and at today's rates at a body shop.

But ICBC dinging my policy as a at fault collision. Now I have a 43% and 20 discount so its not at all any issue - my point (and question) what is your thoughts on this?

Does the ship fall under Marine law or is it Highway?

Duty of care is owed by BC Ferries - we know that.

Your thoughts?


Interesting question!

My thought is that you are unable to avoid the at fault collision label only when the other person is 100% responsible for it. With everything that I have seen as case law I think that it would be very difficult to assign total blame to the BC Ferries employee. I have little doubt that they see themselves as pointing to the lane that you need to use or that OK, it's your turn to go. Nothing more. Some of them even do a fairly sloppy job of that.

Did the ferry employee understand clearly what you required of them? You would likely have to be able to show that they both understood and agreed in order to shift some liability to them.

Although it is discussing a different matter, a discussion of an Administrative Driving Prohibition on T.E. Hudson Law (site has been taken down) mentions a court decision where the justice finds that a BC Ferry deck is a highway.

I am a poor source of information on civil law (which is what your question is asking about) as I have no training and small experience in it. I've asked someone I know with more experience for a comment and will post it here if and when I receive an answer.


Follow Up Advice

The simple answer, as you’ve stated in your reply on the site already, is that the ferry worker is unlikely to be responsible.

Number 8 of BC Ferries Conditions of Carriage says vehicle owners are responsible for the operation of their vehicle:

ICBC also considers the parking deck of a ferry to be a highway.

It would be interested to see a judge render a decision on something like this but unless the ferry worker was obviously negligent (knowingly directing the RV into the other vehicle) I doubt BC Ferries would be responsible.

Weirder things have happened….

More Information

In my haste to put up the scenario to you, I missed a major point here. Once again - not asking for any legal advice - the indecent is really irking me. In a sort of fun way.

Here is the upside of what happened:

The gentleman driving the car in question (ex -RCMP retired as well) raised  concern to a BC Ferries employee on why he "parked him so close to me and me to the wall" (It happened as the point where the bow narrows substantially.)

The fellow said that to me and my passenger as well as its documented in the ICBC Claim report I have received.

So "BC Ferries staff" knew.

It will interesting to see how this plays out.

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