Plaintiff At Fault in Fatal Tractor Trailer Collision for Running Stop Sign

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with the issue of fault following a two vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Rackstraw v. Robertson) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision with a tractor trailer.  The tractor trailer was travelling Northbound on Mount Lehman Road.  The Plaintiff was travelling eastbound on Sunset Crescent which forms a T-intersection with Mount Lehman Road.

The Defendant “decided to pass a northbound vehicle ahead of him”.   To do so he accelerated above the speed limit and had to travel in the southbound lane.  As he did so he saw the Plaintiff approach the intersection and run the stop sign which was facing him on Sunset Crescent.  The vehicles collided and the Plaintiff died shortly after.
Ultimately the Plaintiff was found fully at fault for the collision.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice Fisher provided the following reasons:
[25] Mr. Rackstraw owed a duty of care to other drivers travelling on Mount Lehman Road, in particular Mr. Robertson.  He breached that duty by failing to stop at the stop sign, failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to yield to the Robertson vehicle when he entered the roadway on Mount Lehman Road.  Mr. Rackstraw was the servient driver at all times…
[32] …. the fact that Robertson was travelling over the speed limit will only constitute negligence if his speed is what prevented him from taking reasonable evasive action: see Cooper v. Garrett, 2009 BCSC 35 at para. 42.  In my view, there is no evidence which establishes that Robertson’s speed prevented him from doing so. His truck was just about at the intersection when he first saw Rackstraw’s vehicle, and only his trailer, or part of it, was still in the southbound lane when the impact occurred…
[37]it is my opinion that the accident in the case at bar was caused solely by the failure of Mr. Rackstraw to stop at the stop sign, to keep a proper lookout and to yield to the Robertson vehicle when he entered the roadway on Mount Lehman Road.  When Robertson started his pass, there was no reason for him to believe that he could not do so safely or that he would interfere with the travel of another vehicle.  As in Ferguson, he was engaged in a lawful manoeuvre.  He did not see, and could not reasonably have seen, the Rackstraw vehicle until he was just about at the intersection and he had no reasonable opportunity to avoid the collision.

bc injury law, Madam Justice Fisher, overtaking, overtaking vehicles, Rackstraw v. Robertson, section 157 Motor Vehicle Act, section 159 motor vehicle act, section 160 motor vehicle act, Section 175 Motor Vehicle Act, section 186 Motor Vehicle Act, speeding

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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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