BC Ferries passenger sues after improperly secured motorcycle damaged on sailing

BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has ruled a motorcyclist won’t get any compensation after his bike was damaged when it fell over on a BC Ferries sailing.

Toshman Mah took the ferry operator to small-claims court, suing for $3,000 worth of damages to his bike, claiming the ferry operator improperly secured his bike.

But BC Ferries denied it was negligent, saying it’s the passenger’s responsibility to secure their vehicles.

The incident happened on a May 2023 sailing, when CCTV footage shows the motorcycle tipping over on its side.

Mah argued once he parked, staff instructed him to go upstairs to the lounge and didn’t place any blocks or other stabilizing measures next to his bike. But BC Ferries countered that there are signs displayed in the parking area saying motorcyclists must secure their bikes at their own risk — along with instructions for doing so.

Motorcycles are supposed to be parked at a 45-degree angle to the ferry’s centre line, left in low gear, parked on the side stand, and supported on the opposite side with wooden blocks.

That day, the usual motorcycle area was full. So, the staff instructed Mah to park in a different area, usually reserved for irregular-sized vehicles — further from the instructional signs.

But even though the tribunal member Kristin Gardner accepted that Mah may not have seen the sign, she still didn’t believe that made BC Ferries negligent.

“It should have been obvious that Mr. Mah was on a moving vessel, subject to turns, potential bumps when leaving and arriving at the dock, and rough waters,” she wrote. “I find Mr. Mah should not have left his motorcycle without confirming how to properly secure it.”

What’s more, Mah didn’t submit evidence to explain where he arrived at the $3,000 figure. Though there were photos of the bike lying on its side and various scratches, there wasn’t evidence they had been repaired.

In the end, the motorcyclist’s claim was dismissed, and he wasn’t given any reimbursement.

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