Pedestrian Found Partially At Fault for Injuries for Failing to Use Sidewalk


Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dealing with the duty of Pedestrians to use a sidewalk or crosswalk where one is available.
In today’s case (Larsen v. Doe) the pedestrian Plaintiff was struck by a vehicle while “walking in a T intersection normally used by vehicles“.  There was no marked pedestrian walkway where the collision occurred however there was a sidewalk nearby and “if the pedestrian had taken the sidewalk, her path would cross the street within the unmarked crosswalk much closer to the stop sign from which the vehicle departed“.  The collision was a hit and run and the identity of the driver/owner of the vehicle remained unknown at the time of trial.
As permitted by section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act the Plaintiff sued ICBC directly as a nominal defendant seeking compensation for her injuries.  ICBC, in the place of the unknown motorist, was found liable for the collision.  ICBC argued that the Plaintiff should be found partially at fault for not utilizing the nearby sidewalk.  Mr. Justice Josephson agreed with this submission.  In finding the plaintiff 25% at fault for the collision Mr. Justice Josephson provided the following analysis:

[12]         The plaintiff argues that, as she was walking along the highway, she had either entered the intersection or was approaching so closely that she constituted an immediate hazard to the defendant driver. Consequently, the defendant was obligated to yield the right of way to the plaintiff and, had she done so, could have proceeded after the plaintiff cleared the intersection.

[13]         While ss. 175 and 119, taken together, give through traffic the right of way, s. 175 does not grant to pedestrians travelling along a highway the right to proceed on the roadway itself where a sidewalk or a crosswalk is available. No authorities have found otherwise.

[14]         Furthermore, the plaintiff’s submission that s. 175 grants pedestrians the right of way in travelling along a roadway runs contrary to s. 182(1) of the MVA which provides that, where there is a sidewalk, a pedestrian should avail herself of it.

[15] Therefore, I find that the plaintiff was in breach of her statutory duties under s. 180 and/or s. 182(1) of the MVA and cannot invoke s. 175 in such a way as to override those duties…

[25]         In the case at bar, I find that the plaintiff’s breach of her statutory duties under the MVA did contribute to the accident and, consequently, the injuries she sustained. Because she chose to walk along the roadway behind the diagonal parking stalls, the plaintiff made herself less visible to the defendant than had she chosen to cross the intersection within the unmarked crosswalk according to her duties under the MVA. While the plaintiff believed the defendant driver saw her and was waiting for her to cross the intersection, she should have reasonably perceived the danger the defendant’s car presented given the minimal lighting in the intersection and given that a driver would not expect pedestrians to emerge into the intersection from the other side of the parking stalls when there was a sidewalk and crosswalk available to her.

[26]          I conclude that liability should be apportioned 75% to the driver and 25% to the plaintiff.

This case is also worth reviewing for the Court’s discussion of a Plaintiff’s duties to ascertain the identify of the Driver in Hit and Run Claims.  In order to successfully sue ICBC under s. 24 of the Insurance Vehicle Act a Plaintiff needs to make “all reasonable efforts…to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver“.  Here ICBC argued that the Plaintiff, despite being hit unexpectedly and having a compound wrist fracture, unreasonably failed to obtain identifying information with respect to the offending vehicle.  The Court disagreed with this submission finding that the Plaintiff was in shock and that her failure to identify the motorist was not unreasonable, specifically the court found as follows:

[36] In determining whether a claimant has made all reasonable efforts, the court must have regard to the subjective condition of the claimant at the time of the accident: see Leggett v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (1992), 96 D.L.R. (4th) 123, 72 B.C.L.R. (2d) 201 (C.A.) [Leggett cited to B.C.L.R.] at para. 12. Therefore, where a claimant fails to obtain the identity of the driver or owner at the time of the accident because she was in a state of shock, the claimant will not be held to have acted unreasonably. In order to find that a claimant was in a state of shock, medical evidence is not required; a finding that the claimant was “taken by surprise and confused” is sufficient: see Hocaluk v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, 2007 BCSC 170, 69 B.C.L.R. (4th) 360 at para. 56.

[37] Under subsection (b), the phrase “not ascertainable” should not be strictly interpreted to mean “could not possibly have been ascertained” but, rather, whether the identity of the person “could not have been ascertained had the claimant made all reasonable efforts, having regard to the claimant’s position”: see Leggett at para. 11.

[38] I am satisfied that the plaintiff was in a significantly altered emotional state following the collision that rendered her incapable of rationally assessing her duties and obligations. With the meaning of Leggett, she was not in a condition that it would have been reasonable for her to discover and record the appropriate information.

[39] Once recovered, she employed all reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the owner and driver. While not all possible efforts were employed, those that were fall well within the classification of “reasonable”.

hit and run, hit and run accidents, icbc injury claims, Larsen v. Doe, Mr. Justice Josephson, Pedestrians, Reasonable Efforts to Identify Defendant, section 24 Insurance (Vehicle) Act, Sidewalk

Comment

  • 3 Times yesterday alone within 4 Hours pedestrians ran across my vehicle
    Pedestrian are purposely trying to walk and run in front of vehicles trying to scam the icbc
    Also the big shot lawyers scam artists just scamming the system 30-40%
    80% accidents are scam
    Normal drivers have no say
    Car Insurances are going through the roof
    Pedistrian are laughing after they collect money
    Let’s all Drivers join and stop these fat Asses lawyers collecting all this money for nothing
    Let’s have big protests in front of Courts, Big Fat Lawyers Offices and ICBC
    Let’s just stop this bullshit

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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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