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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

Erik Magraken does not work for and is not affiliated in any way with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Please note that this blog is for information only and is not claim-specific legal advice.  Erik can only provide legal advice to clients. Please click here to arrange a free consultation.

Posts Tagged ‘Section 179(2) Motor Vehicle Act’

Two Jaywalking Injury Claims Dismissed by the BC Supreme Court

May 23rd, 2013

Adding to this site’s archived case summaries of collisions invovling jaywalking pedestrians, two separate cases involving such a collision recently were dismissed at trial by the BC Supreme Court.

In the first case (Talbot v. Kijanowska) the Plaintiff, who emerged from an alleyway, was attempting to cross a street without the right of way.  The Defendant motorist did not see him in time to take evasive action.  The Plaintiff’s claim was ultimately dismissed with Mr. Justice Greyell providing the following reasons:

[34]         It is acknowledged by Mr. Talbot that he was not crossing the street at a crosswalk, marked or unmarked, at the time he struck or was struck by Ms. Kijanowska’s vehicle. Even if he had been crossing a crosswalk, there is a common law duty on a person in Mr. Talbot’s position to take care of his own safety upon leaving the curb: Kovacova v. Ray, [1998] B.C.J. No. 3309, 48 M.V.R. (3d) 56 (S.C.) at para. 17….

38]         The headlights Mr. Talbot saw upon emerging from the alleyway and upon looking to his right must have come from Ms. Kijanowska’s approaching vehicle. There were no other vehicles on the roadway at the time. Mr. Talbot was unable to explain how or why he did not see Ms. Kijanowska’s vehicle as it approached him after having first observed it about one block away. Mr. Talbot was not able to refute the defence’s theory that he had walked or run into the side of Ms. Kijanowska’s vehicle.

[39]         The only conclusion that I can draw from these unfortunate circumstances is that Mr. Talbot was simply not paying attention or having regard to his own safety when he left the alleyway and walked onto Trutch. He may very well have been distracted by listening to music on his headphones, which were observed lying on the ground next to him.

Accordingly, on the facts as I find them I cannot attribute negligence to the defendant. I conclude the accident of March 27, 2010 was caused solely by the negligence of Mr. Talbot in failing to take care of his own safety by keeping a proper lookout as he left the alleyway and walked onto Trutch and into Ms. Kijanowska’s vehicle.

[40]         The plaintiff’s action is dismissed. In the ordinary course the defendant would be entitled to costs. If there are matters of which I am unaware counsel may speak to the issue.

In the second case, (Pinsent v. Brown) the Plaintiff pedestrian was injured when attempting to cross a street in Vancouver in dark and rainy conditions.  She was not crossing at an intersection or in a crosswalk and “emerged onto the roadway from between parked cars”.  In finding the Plaintiff solely at fault for the resulting collision Madam Justice Ross provided the following reasons:

[32]         The applicable statutory provisions are ss. 179, 180 and 181 of the Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 318,…

[34]         The mere fact that the driver did not see the pedestrian before striking him, is not in itself, sufficient to establish that the driver kept an inadequate lookout: Plett v. ICBC (1987), 12 B.C.L.R. (2d) 336 (C.A.). The driver is required to operate his vehicle so that he will be able to avoid striking a pedestrian who is crossing his path in a reasonable manner: Funk v. Carter, 2004 BCSC 866….

[52]         Ms. Brown testified that she was familiar with the area and not distracted. She did not see Ms. Pinsent until Ms. Pinsent stepped out from behind the parked car and stepped into her path. I find that Ms. Brown was exercising reasonable care and attention. I find further that Ms. Pinsent was not visible to Ms. Brown until it was too late to avoid the accident.

[53]         In all of the circumstances I have concluded that the plaintiff has not established that Ms. Brown was travelling at an excessive rate of speed or that she failed to exercise the care and attention of a reasonably prudent driver.

[54]         The accident occurred while Ms. Pinsent was jaywalking. Accordingly, Ms. Brown had the right of way. Ms. Pinsent has failed to establish that after Ms. Brown became aware, or by the exercise of reasonable care should have become aware, of Ms. Pinsent’s own disregard of the law, Ms. Brown had a sufficient opportunity to avoid the accident of which a reasonably careful and skilful driver would have availed himself.

[55]         I find that Ms. Brown was not negligent in the manner she operated her vehicle. Ms. Pinsent was the sole cause of this unfortunate accident. In the result the action is dismissed.


IPod Not Deemed "A Meaningful Factor" In Pedestrian Collision

September 28th, 2012

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing the issue of fault for a collision involving a pedestrian who was listening to music on an iPod when he was struck by a transit bus.

In last week’s case (Whelan v. BC Transit) the Plaintiff was injured when a BC Transit Bus ran over his foot.  The parties agreed on the value of the claim but each argued the other was to blame.  The trial proceeded on the issue of fault.

The Plaintiff “was listening to music on his iPod by means of its earbuds” as he was walking on the sidewalk.  He decided to step briefly onto the curb lane of the street in order to walk around other pedestrians.  As he did so he was struck from behind by a BC Transit bus which was leaving the curbside moving forward to merge with traffic.  The Plaintiff “did not hear the bus before it struck him“.

The Court ultimately found both parties were to blame for the impact.  The Plaintiff for stepping out into the street when it was unsafe to do so and without the right of way, the Defendant for failing to see the Plaintiff who was there to be seen.  The Court found the Plaintiff more culpable allocating 60% of the blame to him.  Interestingly the Court did not consider his listening to music and failing to hear the bus to be a significant factor.  In reaching the split of fault Mr. Justice Schultes provided the following reasons:

[72]         As was obvious from my earlier comments in this discussion, Mr. Whelan was himself contributorily negligent in this accident. In addition to his disregard for the bus’s right of way and his needless decision to place himself onto the travelled portion of the roadway simply to avoid a moment’s pause in his progress, he made an assumption that was even less grounded in objective fact than Mr. Kobbero’s — that the driver checking his shoulder meant that the bus would have moved into the left lane before it reached the area where he stepped off the sidewalk.

[73]          I do not find his use of an iPod to be a meaningful factor in this analysis though. His negligent decision to step onto the road was caused by impatience and a faulty assumption about the actions of the bus driver, and not by any reduction in his ability to hear his surrounding environment…

[75]         I would characterize Mr. Kobbero’s lapse of care in conduct as falling more towards the momentary or minor end of the spectrum than towards the extremely careless end. I have found that it was a decision to focus his attention fairly briefly on an admittedly more pressing task, based on the faulty assumption that there were no risks directly ahead of him. This was not the kind of lapse that was inevitably going to cause harm; it required a pedestrian to do one of the foolish things that Mr. Kobbero has been trained to expect in order for that to happen. I conclude that Mr. Kobbero should bear 40% of the liability for this accident.

[76]         Mr. Whelan’s actions conversely, demonstrate a higher degree of carelessness. As a pedestrian he was extremely vulnerable to the oncoming bus and there were no safe circumstances under which he could have stepped on the road with it still moving forward in that curb lane. It was in essence a gamble on things playing out as he assumed they would, with a large downside, fortunately only a small part of which materialized here, to being wrong. Accordingly I fix his liability at 60%.


Pedestrians, Crosswalks and the Duty To Yield The Right of Way

February 3rd, 2012

While Pedestrians are allowed to cross streets in a crosswalk the right is not absolute.  One limitation in section 179 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act addresses pedestrians walking in front of a moving vehicle “that is so close it is impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way“.  In these circumstances a Pedestrian could be faulted for a resulting collision even if they would otherwise have the right of way.  Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Nelson Registry, considering this obligation in a personal injury lawsuit.

In yesterday’s case (Cairney v. Miller) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 collision.  The Plaintiff was crossing in a marked cross-walk in Nelson, BC, when he was struck by the Defendant.  As the Defendant was driving she “slowed down to look for a parking spot when she suddenly felt a bump on the left side of her car.”  The Defendant failed to see the Plaintiff and the Court ultimately found the Defendant at fault.

The Defendant went on to argue that the Plaintiff should be held partially at fault because he should have realized she was not yielding the right of way.  Mr. Justice McEwan rejected this argument and provided the following reasons:

[25] Given Mr. Thompson’s evidence, which I accept, the plaintiff was visible in the crosswalk when the defendant’s vehicle crested the hill and entered the intersection. I cannot accept that poor lighting or dark clothing had anything to do with what happened and must infer that the defendant was not paying sufficient attention in the circumstances. The plaintiff did nothing sudden or unusual to cause the collision. He was simply established in the crosswalk while the defendant’s car was approaching.

[26] Mr. Thompson’s evidence differs from that of both the plaintiff and the defendant with respect to speed. Witnesses often differ on the characterization of such matters, and both the plaintiff and the defendant agree that she was proceeding slowly, a factor in the plaintiff’s calculation that he believed the defendant was going to stop.

[27] This is difficult to reconcile with Mr. Thompson’s immediate reaction that there was going to be a collision between the plaintiff and the defendant’s vehicle. The effect of Mr. Thompson’s evidence is that, to him, the defendant’s vehicle appeared to be an immediate and obvious hazard to the plaintiff, because it was going too fast.

[28] I have carefully considered whether the plaintiff’s failure to apprehend that the defendant was not going to yield to him, engaged an obligation to avoid injury to himself that modified his right to the right of way (See Feng v. Graham (1988), 25 B.C.L.R. (2d) 116 (C.A.), cited in Dionne at para. 23 above).

[29] The evidence, taken as a whole, however, suggests that the plaintiff assumed that the defendant would stop in circumstances when it was reasonable to expect she would see him. It is often possible to say in retrospect that had a party paid more attention, he or she might have avoided the collision. In the circumstances here, I think this would impose a standard of more than usual diligence and watchfulness on the plaintiff at odds with his right to be in the crosswalk and the presumption that the plaintiff would abide by the rules of the road.

[30] Accordingly, I find the defendant fully liable for the collision.