“No Crash – No Cash?” The Big Lie of LVI

Auto insurers like ICBC often adopt what has come to be known as the “no crash – no cash” policy when processing low velocity impact (“LVI”) claims. The insurer takes the position that if there is little to no damage to the injured person’s vehicle then there has been “no crash” and consequently the insurer will pay out “no cash”.

For  insurance companies that like to take in premiums but don’t like to pay out on claims, this position makes great sense and it sounds convincing too. For injured collision victims however, this position is not only unreasonable, it is fraught with error and it is unsupported by the courts.

Science shows us that there is no direct correlation between the severity of damage to a vehicle and the injury to the occupants. Consider this: you are driving down the highway with your five year old securely belted in the back seat. Unbeknownst to you, your child briefly unbuckles to retrieve the toy they have dropped. The car in front of you brakes suddenly. You react and slam on the brakes.  Physics, takes over and your child is thrown head first into the side window post. In such a case your child’s injuries could prove catastrophic – your vehicle on the other hand does not have a scratch on it.

Most people are unaware of the extent of the physical forces that are applied to our bodies even in low velocity impacts. The public, used to watching Nascar races on the weekend where cars are totally demolished and the drivers walk away seemingly unscathed, is often skeptical about injuries from LVI’s. The truth of the matter with race cars is that they are specifically designed to crush and come apart so that the energy in the collision is absorbed by the destruction of the vehicle and not by the occupant. The drivers also have more sophisticated seat belt systems, have high tech seats,  wear protective helmets and are seated in a protective cage. The drivers themselves are also athletes who are often prepared for any impacts that occur. That being said, many race car drivers do sustain serious injuries that come to light after they have walked away, seemingly unscathed, from their wreck.

The vehicles we drive are not race cars and don’t have the benefit of the safety features and energy absorbing engineering of race cars. Most  drivers are not athletes and are often unaware of any impending collision. Consequently, the G-forces exerted on our bodies even in relatively low speed collisions, can and do cause injuries. The vehicles, not designed to crush and come apart on impact as their racing cousins are, often sustain relatively minor damage, yet the occupants sustain injuries. In such cases the insurance company will tell the injured parties “sorry, ‘no crash – no cash'”.

Fortunately, the courts, over the years, have had ample opportunity to consider and reject the insurance companies’  “no crash- no cash policy”.  This rejection was reiterated by Madam Justice Power of the Supreme Court of B.C. in the  recent case of De Leon v. Harold. The case involved a rear end LVI claim where damage to the vehicles was negligible. Nevertheless, Ms. De Leon, who had been rear-ended, complained of back pain after the collision. She attended her family doctor,  a chiropractor and a massage therapist.

ICBC applied  the “no crash – no cash” policy and Ms. De Leon was forced to go to trial to get compensation for her injuries. In making her decision, Madam Justice Power quoted Judge Macauly in Lubick v. Mei :


The courts have long debunked the suggestion that low impact can be directly correlated with lack of compensable injury.

In Gordon v. Palmer…Thackeray J. as he then was made the following comments that are still apposite today.



I do not subscribe to the view that if there is no motor vehicle damage there is no injury. This is a philosophy the the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may follow, but it has no application in court. It is not a legal principle of which I am aware and I have not heard it endorsed as a medical principle.

Madam Justice Power went on to quote Judge Williams comments from Dao v. Vance:

“This was undoubtedly a low-velocity collision where damage to the vehicle was so minimal as to be non-existent.  All of the evidence supports that conclusion. In such instances, claims for compensation for injury are often resisted on the basis that there is reason to doubt their legitimacy.  Furthermore, in this case, principle evidence in support of the plaintiff’s claim is subjective, that is, it is her self report. There is not a great deal of objective evidence to support her description of the injuries she claims to have suffered.


In response to those concerns, I would observe that there is no principle of law which says that because damage to the vehicle is slight or non-detectable that it must follow that there is no injury. Certainly, as a matter of common sense, where the collision is of slight force, any injury is somewhat likely at least to be less severe than in a situation where the forces are greater, such as to result in significant physical damages to the automobiles. Nevertheless, I do not accept that there can be no injury where there is no physical damage to the vehicles.


Madam Justice Power awarded Ms. De Leon $12,000 for her injuries and $1,200 for her time lost from work.

Always remember that when you are injured in a collision that has been caused by somebody else, ICBC IS NOT YOUR INSURER. In fact, if you are hit by a B.C. insured driver, ICBC is the insurer for the person who hit you! Most people don’t realize this and are then fooled by ICBC policies such as “no crash – no cash” which have no application at law.

If you or a loved one have been injured, talk to a personal injury lawyer before you talk to ICBC – with most lawyers the first visit is free!


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