Motorcyclist At Fault for Collision After Making "Poor Reactive Choice"


Adding to this site’s archived case summaries addressing collision liability, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing fault for a collision when a motorcyclist wrongly assumed a vehicle was going to come into his path of travel.
In this week’s case (Vance v. Cartwright) the Plaintiff motorcyclist was travelling southbound when the Defendant approached a stop sign. After stopping the Defendant proceeded forward then stopped after seeing the Plaintiff.  The Plaintiff “reacted by deciding to go to his right…believing she was going to continue to make her left hand turn and that this would lead to a collision“.  In finding the Plaintiff fully at fault for the collision Mr. Justice Saunders provided the following reasons:
[42]         I find that the accident happened through no fault on the part of the defendant.  She did what was reasonably expected of her.  She stopped at the line, checked for traffic, moved forward slowly giving her improved sight lines, and when she saw the oncoming motorcycle stopped again.  She cannot be held responsible for his decision to veer to the right.
[43]         The plaintiff says that the defendant was moving into his lane and that he felt she was committed to making her left turn.  That evidence struck me as a post hoc rationalization of the plaintiff’s actions.  There was nothing in the defendant’s actions to indicate she was doing anything other than proceeding forward slowly before committing to a turn.
[44]         I find this accident happened solely due to the plaintiff’s fault.  He approached an intersection which he ought to have known had limited visibility, travelling not out towards the centre line where he would have been more easily seen, but far to the right, making him less visible to the defendant.  He was speeding which cut his reaction time and would have cut the reaction time of other drivers as well.
[45]         The evidence of how he reacted when he saw the defendant’s car is, at least, equally consistent with him having panicked when he saw the defendant’s car or with him having made a poor reactive choice reflecting his lack of training and experience.
[46]         The action is, therefore, dismissed.

bc injury law, Mr. Justice Saunders, Vance v. Cartwright

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ERIK
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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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