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Motorist Cutting Vehicle Off While Parking Found Fully Liable for Crash

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a personal injury lawsuit arising from a 2008 collision which occurred in Burnaby, BC.
In this week’s case (Haughian v. Jiwa) both the Plaintiff and Defendant were travelling Eastbound on Sunset Street.  The Plaintiff was in the inside lane and the Defendant was behind in the curb lane.  Although the Court heard competing versions of how the collision occurred it was ultimately accepted that the collision occurred as the Plaintiff attempted to pull into a parking spot on the right hand side and failed to realize the Defendant was approaching.  As can be seen from the below photo the parking spots are bizarrely positioned on this stretch of road facing away from the eastbound traffic.

As the Plaintiff pulled in the Defendant’s left front corner hit the Plaintiff’s right side passenger door.  In finding the Plaintiff fully at fault and dismissing the lawsuit Mr. Justice Punnett provided the following reasons:

[83] The evidence of the defendant is that the plaintiff turned across his lane without signalling her intentions.  The plaintiff’s assertion that she first saw the defendant when he was 4 to 5 parking spaces away is consistent with the defendant’s evidence that the turn was made immediately in front of him.  The defendant states he was not speeding.  The speed limit was 50 km per hour.  The distance involved on the evidence of the plaintiff was limited.  The resulting time available to the defendant to react was also limited.  That reaction time is to be judged by the “the standards of normal persons and not by applying the standards of perfection” (Tucker at p. 554).

[84] The actions of the plaintiff would not be anticipated by a reasonable person.  Her conduct was so out of the norm that the defendant would have no reason to anticipate her attempt to park by crossing over his lane of travel.  There was no evidence that such a manoeuvre was common practice.  At best, had she signalled, the expectation of a reasonably competent driver would be that she was signalling a lane change.  As required by s. 151 of the Act, the plaintiff had the obligation to ensure that her movement towards the parking space could be completed safely and not affect the travel of the defendant driver.

[85] The plaintiff has failed to establish that the defendant had the time, distance or opportunity to react and avoid the plaintiff.  The evidence of the defendant is consistent with the physical evidence; that of the plaintiff on either of her versions is not.  As noted in Haase, any doubts are to be resolved in favour of the defendant.

[86] For these reasons I am satisfied that the necessary findings of fact can be made in this summary application and that it is not unjust to do so.  I am satisfied that the plaintiff was solely responsible for the accident and that no liability rests with the defendant.  The plaintiff’s claim is dismissed.

bc injury law, Haughian v. Jiwa, Mr. Justice Punnett, Section 151 Motor Vehicle Act

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