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Speeding Bus Driver Found Faultless for Collision With Moose

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a negligence lawsuit against a bus driver who collided with a moose.

In today’s case (Tran v. Anderson) the Defendant was operating a Greyhound bus on June 22, 2011.  He was travelling above the posted speed limit.  A moose appeared “suddenly out of the foliage to the right of the highway, about 20 feet in front of the bus“.  The Court found that the Defendant had no time to react in these circumstances and even if was travelling at the posted speed limit the result would have been the same.

In dismissing the negligence claim Madam Justice Adair provided the following reasons:

[55]         I find that the moose appeared suddenly out of the foliage to the right of the highway, about 20 feet in front of the bus, and was cantering.  The evidence of Mr. Anderson and Mr. Vandenborre, which I accept, supports this conclusion.  Thus, the moose was not visible until it was too late for Mr. Anderson either to take evasive action or to avoid the collision.  I find further that, even if Mr. Anderson had been travelling at the posted speed limit, he would not have had sufficient time to avoid the collision with the moose.  I accept Mr. MacInnis’ opinion evidence in that respect.  That evidence is consistent with the evidence of Mr. Anderson and Mr. Vandenborre concerning the very brief time – the mere snap of fingers – in which events unfolded.  Accordingly, I find that the collision would have occurred even if Mr. Anderson had been driving at the posted speed limit.

[56]         Both of the plaintiffs rely on Knight to argue that Mr. Anderson should be found negligent.  However, that case is distinguishable on the facts.  Among the important distinguishing facts are that, in Knight, there were moose warning signs on the highway and Mr. Knight (the defendant) had driven past such a sign prior to the accident. 

[57]         However, in this case, there were no warning signs indicating a heightened presence of moose or other animals along this stretch of the highway.  The area where the collision occurred was not an area known to be populated by moose, or where it was more probable than not that moose would be found.  On the contrary, moose sightings were rare.  Mr. Anderson, Mr. Vandenborre and Staff Sergeant Reader all confirmed that there were no animal warning signs of any kind in the area.  While encounters with moose were possible, they were not probable.  I agree with the defendants’ submission that, in all the circumstances here, the standard of care does not require that Mr. Anderson reduce his driving speed below the posted speed limit simply because he was driving on a highway in rural British Columbia.

[58]         The result is that the plaintiffs have failed to show a breach of the standard of care on the part of Mr. Anderson and have failed to show any causal link between the speed at which Mr. Anderson was driving and the collision.  I conclude that the plaintiffs have failed to prove negligence on the part of the defendants, and therefore have failed to establish that the defendants are liable to either of them.

[59]         As the plaintiffs’ claims fail on liability, it follows that the actions must be dismissed.

accidents with animals, bc injury law, Madam Justice Adair, Moose Collision, Tran v. Anderson