Motorist Fully At Fault For Collision Following U-Turn Behind Reversing Vehicle

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing fault for a collision involving a Defendant who u-turned into a parking spot behind a backing up vehicle.
In this week’s case (Ferguson v. Yang) the Plaintiff stopped along the curb of 8th Street in New Westminster to drop his daughter off for school.  There was a gap behind him with a white van parked behind him.  The Defendant, who was approaching from the opposite direction made a u-turn and pulled into the gap.  At the same time the Plaintiff was backing up and a collision occurred.

Although there was a dispute as to how the collision occurred the Court found the above scenario the likely one as the Defendant’s evidence was “fraught with inconsistencies and obvious exaggerations“.  In finding the Plaintiff faultless for the collision Mr. Justice Weatherill provided the following reasons:
41]         In my view, the u-turn performed by the defendant in an attempt to secure a parking spot across the street in a school zone where parents were busy dropping their children off for school was a maneuver fraught with danger.  Moreover, I am satisfied that the plaintiff’s backup lights were illuminated, that the defendant ought to have seen them and that he ought to have anticipated the plaintiff’s vehicle was in the process of reversing into the space the defendant was attempting to move into.  Captain MacPherson saw these backup lights.  Had the defendant been keeping a proper look out, he would have seen them as well.
[42]         The defendant has failed to satisfy me that the plaintiff was contributory negligent in any way.  
[43]         The law does not require perfection on the part of the plaintiff to guard himself against every conceivable eventuality.  He must only guard himself against those eventualities that a reasonable person ought to have foreseen, within the ordinary range of human experience.  The plaintiff was entitled to proceed on the assumption that all other vehicles would do what is there duty, namely observing the rules of traffic: Pacheco (Guardian ad Litem of) v. Robinson (1993), 75 B.C.L.R. (2d) 273 (C.A.) at para. 11; Dechev v. Judas, 2004 BCSC 1564 at para. 22.
[44]         The plaintiff checked the area around his vehicle by looking in his side and rear view mirrors and by looking over his right shoulder.  He did all that he ought to have done.  A reasonably prudent driver should not be expected to anticipate that while in the course of backing up, another vehicle will perform an aggressive and illegal u-turn from the other side of the street in an attempt to occupy the space behind him.
[45]         The plaintiff had no warning of the impending collision.  I do not believe the defendant’s evidence that he was stopped and that he honked his horn prior to the collision.
[46]         In Carson v. Henyecz, 2012 BCSC 314, Madam Justice Hyslop stated at para. 99
            The duty imposed on a reversing driver is not just when the driver starts to reverse, but throughout the entire reversing procedure and to its completion.  The object is to be aware as reasonably possible to what is behind the driver and in the driver’s path while in reverse.
I agree with those comments.  I find that, in the circumstances here, the plaintiff conducted himself appropriately and was as aware as reasonably possible to what a reasonable driver should have anticipated would be in his path while reversing his vehicle.  He could not have reasonably anticipated that the defendant would do what he did.  
 

bc injury law, Ferguson v. Yang, Mr. Justice Weatherill, section 155 BC Motor Vehicle Act, Section 156 BC Motor Vehicle Act, Section 168 BC Motor Vehicle Act, Section 169 BC Motor Vehicle Act, Section 193 Motor Vehicle Act

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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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