Driver Partly At Fault For Failing to Engage Turn Signal in Timely Fashion


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, deciding the issue of fault for a two vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Tang v. Rodgers) the Plaintiff was travelling on West 33rd Avenue in Vancouver when he was struck by the Defendant’s vehicle.  There was one lane in the Plaintiff’s direction of travel at the scene of the collision.  The Plaintiff attempted a right hand turn into the driveway to his residence.  At this time the Defendant was attempting to pass the Plaintiff’s vehicle on the right and a collision occurred.
There was conflicting evidence at trial but ultimately the Court found that both motorists were to blame.  The Defendant was faulted for passing on the right when it was unsafe to do so.  The Plaintiff was found 25% at fault for failing to engage his right hand turn signal in a timely fashion.  In arriving at this apportionment Madam Justice Brown provided the following reasons:

[21]         Section 158 of the Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 318, prohibits passing to the right in most circumstances.  Mr. Rodgers was negligent in passing on the right without ensuring that it was safe to do so.  Mr. Tang was moving slowly in the travel lane when Mr. Rodgers decided to pass.  Mr. Rodgers did not know what Mr. Tang was doing and thought he was confused.  Mr. Rodgers took a significant risk.

[22]         Mr. Tang was also negligent.  Section 167 of the Motor Vehicle Act provides that a driver of a vehicle must not turn the vehicle to the right from a highway at a place other than an intersection unless the driver causes the vehicle to approach the place as closely as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.  Mr. Tang did not do so.  Rather, as some drivers do, he placed his vehicle to the left before turning right.  His vehicle was not as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.  Second, Mr. Tang did not shoulder check or look to his right before turning right.  Finally, Mr. Tang only turned his right turn signal on immediately before the accident, which was too late to give warning to those behind him.

[23]         The circumstances of this case are very similar to the circumstances that were before Mr. Justice Curtis in Boyes v. Mistal, [1990] B.C.J. No. 1755, 1990 CanLII 528 (SC), aff’d 1992 CanLII 1954 (BCCA).  There Mr. Justice Curtis said:

Mrs. Boyes did not give sufficient warning when she signalled.  Like many drivers she signalled and turned almost simultaneously, too late to warn Mr. Mistal.  Nor did Mrs. Boyes turn from as close as practicable to the right hand edge of the roadway, she turned when there was more than a car width to her right – thereby risking the sort of collision that did occur.  Mrs. Boyes is at fault in the collision for these reasons.

I find Mr. Mistal’s fault to be the greater.  Mrs. Boyes was occupying the only lane of travel, she never left her lane, and had a right to be there.  Mr. Mistal chose to pass Mrs. Boyes when she slowed down on the basis of what he assumed was happening.  She had not signalled and Mr. Mistal should have known that in choosing to pass a vehicle which was obviously intending some maneuver not yet signalled, in its own lane, he was taking a significant risk.  I find Mr. Mistal to be 75% at fault and Mrs. Boyes 25%.

[24]         I, too, conclude that Mr. Rodgers’ fault was the greater.  I find Mr. Rodgers 75% at fault and Mr. Tang 25% at fault.

bc injury law, liability, Madam Justice Brown, passing on the right, section 158(1) Motor Vehicle Act, section 167 motor vehicle act, Tang v. Rodgers, turn signals

Comments (47)

  • I have a question about the “conflicting testimony” part of this report. I surmise that the defendant claimed that no signal light was present, while the plaintiff argued that one was used. In such a case, would video evidence presented by either party be admissible? Small cameras are becoming more affordable these days, but there is always a chance such videos have been edited for the party’s own benefit.

  • I have a question about the “conflicting testimony” part of this report. I surmise that the defendant claimed that no signal light was present, while the plaintiff argued that one was used. In such a case, would video evidence presented by either party be admissible? Small cameras are becoming more affordable these days, but there is always a chance such videos have been edited for the party’s own benefit.

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ERIK
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Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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