(Update February 5, 2012 – the below decision was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in reasons for judgement released today)
Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing fault between a vehicle and a pedestrian.
In last week’s case (Anderson v. Kozniuk) the Plaintiff was crossing a street in an unmarked crossing. In the course of crossing he “cut the corner” and walked away from the intersection. He was walking “briskly“. At the same time the Defendant motorist was travelling south on 12th Street, she “went through the intersection and hit (the Plaintiff)“.
Madam Justice Russell found both parties at fault with the driver shouldering 70% of the blame. In coming to this conclusion the Court provided the following reasons:
When a driver approaches a crosswalk where she has some degree of knowledge and experience that pedestrians approaching the bus stop or the grocery store may be crossing, she should take the precaution of maintaining a careful look-out and slightly reducing her speed. The very presence of the marked crosswalk should have been an indication to her of the possible presence of pedestrians in the area. Had Ms. Kozniuk taken these steps, it is possible she would have seen the plaintiff before the last second, when it was too late to avoid him.
Her evidence was that her attention was focused directly ahead on the roadway. While the standard required of a driver is not that of perfection, she ought to have been able to glance to the periphery to check that there were no pedestrians in the roadway.
Mr. Anderson also had the obligation to take care for his own safety in his use of the road that morning. Had he crossed in either the lighted crosswalk or within the informal boundaries of the unmarked crosswalk, it is possible Ms. Kozniuk would have seen him. As well, had he remained in the boundaries of the crosswalk, his journey to the curb on the opposite side of the street would have been shorter and he may have been able to avoid the car entirely. By angling across towards the bus stop, as he did, the plaintiff was on the roadway for a longer period of time than he would otherwise have been the case.
By leaving the crosswalk, the plaintiff was also entering a darker area of the street, thus heightening his own risk as a pedestrian that the oncoming driver might fail to see him. He failed to even glance over his shoulder as he left the confines of the crosswalk to locate the car he had earlier noticed approaching from the north on 12th. His awareness of the presence of an approaching vehicle ought to have alerted him to the necessity of checking its proximity to him…
I find that both parties bear fault in this accident. Ms. Kozniuk had reason to look for pedestrians in the area of the crosswalk and the bus stop and she failed to keep a proper lookout. Therefore, her negligence resulted in hitting the plaintiff.
The plaintiff left the relative safety of the crosswalk to jaywalk towards the bus stop at a quick pace on a dark, wet street without looking over his shoulder to locate the oncoming vehicle which he had earlier noticed as he began crossing. The defendant has satisfied me that the plaintiff’s failure to take care for his own safety was a proximate cause of the accident…
In reviewing the cases put before me by counsel, including Karran v. Anderson, 2009 BCSC 1105, Beauchamp v. Shand, 2004 BCSC 272, Wong-Lai v. Ong, 2011 BCSC 1260, I have determined that the relative degrees of blameworthiness should be as follows: 30% to the plaintiff and 70% to the defendant.