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Erik MagrakenThis Blog is authored by British Columbia ICBC injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC injury claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims

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Posts Tagged ‘left hand turn collisions’

Motorist Found Faultless For Crash Despite Entering Intersection on Yellow Light

March 20th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing fault for an intersection crash involving a left turning vehicle and a vehicle driving straight through the intersection on a yellow light.

In today’s case (Krist v. Bock) the Plaintiff entered an intersection on a green light intending to turn left.  The Plaintiff committed to the intersection but oncoming traffic was too heavy so the Plaintiff had to wait.  After the light turned yellow the plaintiff proceeded with his turn but was then struck by the Defendant’s vehicle.

The Plaintiff alleged the Defendant was to blame for entering the intersection on a yellow.  Mr. Justice Bowden disagreed and dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim finding him fully at fault for the crash.  In reaching this decision the Court provided the following reasons:

[17]         The defendant was aware of the plaintiff’s vehicle in the left-hand turn lane when he faced the yellow light and continued into the intersection without reducing his speed because of his concern that his vehicle would skid into the intersection. The fact that the defendant had noticed the plaintiff’s vehicle in the left turn lane before he initiated a left turn and did not reduce the speed of his vehicle does not constitute negligence. The presence of the plaintiff’s vehicle in the left turn lane did not cast a duty on the defendant to take extra care and he was entitled to presume that the plaintiff would not initiate a turn until his vehicle was through the intersection. The defendant was entitled to assume that the plaintiff would comply with the rules of the road and not commence a left turn until it was safe to do so.

[18]         I acknowledge that the defendant was warned by the police for entering the intersection in the face of a yellow light however I have accepted his evidence that because of the wet pavement, he could not have stopped safely and thus complied with s. 128 of the MVA.

[19]         In my view, the plaintiff proceeded to turn left when the defendant’s vehicle was in the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. The evidence does not indicate that the plaintiff took any care to determine if a left turn could be made safely. I do not accept the plaintiff’s evidence that he commenced his left turn when the traffic light was red. I accept the defendant’s evidence that the light had turned yellow when he entered the intersection and at that point in time the plaintiff had initiated a left turn.

[20]         In his examination for discovery the plaintiff said that he did not see the defendant’s vehicle until it was 20 feet away. I do not accept his explanation that the defendant’s vehicle was in the curb lane and changed into the center lane just before the accident occurred. He did not see the defendant’s vehicle make such a lane change and just surmised that was what he had done. The plaintiff did not mention this suggested lane change by the defendant in his statement to ICBC on January 3, 2013 nor in his examination for discovery on January 29, 2016.

[21]         In my view, the plaintiff should have seen the defendant’s vehicle as it was entering the intersection but failed to do so. I reject his explanation that the defendant’s vehicle had come from the curb lane into the center lane just before the accident occurred.

[22]         I accept the defendant’s evidence that when the traffic light turned yellow in the rainy conditions he could not stop safely without sliding in the intersection. He gave his evidence in a straight-forward and honest manner. There is no contradictory evidence. Accordingly, the defendant met the standard of care provided in s. 128(1) of the MVA.

[23]         In my view, when the defendant entered the intersection he was the dominant driver and the plaintiff was in the servient position. I find that when the defendant driver entered the intersection, he did not have a sufficient opportunity to avoid the collision with the plaintiff’s vehicle after the plaintiff had initiated a left turn disregarding his statutory duty to yield to the defendant whose vehicle posed an immediate hazard.


Left Hand Turning Vehicle Found Faultess for Intersection Crash

November 14th, 2011

Motorists are entitled to commit to an intersection and wait until its safe to proceed prior to making a left hand turn.  If the light turns red prior to a safe moment arriving it is appropriate for a motorist to wait that long prior to completing their turn.  In such circumstances a turning motorist can be found fully faultless if a collision occurs which was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released last month by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.

In last month’s case (Henry v. Bennett) the Defendant was driving NorthBound on King George intending to make a left hand turn on 68th Avenue.  At the same time the Plaintiff was travelling Southbound on King George intending to drive through the intersection.

The Court found that the Defendant entered the intersection on a green light.  She waited for a gap in traffic.  The light eventually turned amber and then red.   Southbound traffic visible to the Plaintiff stopped.  She began her turn when the Plaintiff came through the intersection and the collision occurred.  The Plaintiff sued for damages but the claim was dismissed with the Court finding him fully at fault for entering the intersection on a red light when it was unsafe to do so.  In finding the Defendant faultless Madam Justice Ballance provided the following reasons:

[72] Ms. Bennett was in a position remarkably similar to that of the plaintiff in Kokkinis. Although she did not see Mr. Henry prior to the collision, Kokkinis indicates that it does not necessarily follow that she was in any way negligent. Having said that, I wish to clarify that I do not read Kokkinis as standing for the proposition that left-turning drivers are entitled to proceed blindly on the assumption that oncoming drivers will obey the rules of the road, without regard to their concurrent obligation to act reasonably as the circumstances dictate. In my view, Ms. Bennett was entitled to proceed on the assumption that oncoming traffic, including Mr. Henry, would act in accordance with the law and come to a stop on the late amber, absent any reasonable indication to the contrary and provided she comported herself with reasonable care. Here, there was no contrary indication from Ms. Bennett’s standpoint. Indeed, she could see that the SUV across from her had complied with the rules and she was aware as well that the flow of straight through traffic had ceased some seconds earlier. She had no reasonable indication that oncoming traffic in the form of Mr. Henry would proceed through the intersection in clear violation of the rules of the road. Moreover, I find that in all the circumstances she conducted herself prudently and with reasonable care in negotiating her left turn. In contrast, Mr. Henry knew or reasonably ought to have known that in all likelihood Ms. Bennett would have carried through with her left turn at the final stage of the amber light, and most assuredly when the signal turned red. He created an extremely unsafe situation in failing to come to a stop.

[73] I endorse the case authorities that cast doubt over the legitimacy of portraying a driver in Mr. Henry’s shoes as having the presumptive right-of-way or otherwise qualifying as the dominant driver for the purposes of assessing liability using the Walker paradigm: see, for example, Snow v. Toth, [1994] B.C.J. No. 563 (S.C.); Shahidi v. Oppersma, [1998] B.C.J. No. 2017 (S.C.); Ziani v. Thede, 2011 BCSC 895. The dominant/servient driver analysis in Walker is predicated on the footing that the dominant driver has proceeded lawfully and, it seems to me, is of utility in that circumstance only. I, therefore, question whether that framework is of any assistance to a driver like Mr. Henry, who has acted in breach of his statutory duty. In any case, it cannot be said that Ms. Bennett attempted to execute her turn in complete disregard of her statutory duty to yield, which is an integral component of the Walker analysis. Indeed, it is my view that Ms. Bennett can be validly characterized as the dominant driver in the circumstances. There is no cogent evidence to remotely suggest that she could have avoided Mr. Henry by the exercise of reasonable care. To formulate it in the terms of s. 174, Ms. Bennett posed an immediate hazard to Mr. Henry, which he should have appreciated, and it is he who ought to have yielded the right-of-way.

[74] Based on the foregoing, I am satisfied that the accident was caused solely by the negligent driving of Mr. Henry. As he is entirely at fault for the accident, his claim is dismissed.