Tag: Cycling Collisions

65/35 Fault Split Following Vehicle / Bicycle Collision

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry addressing fault for an intersection collision between a motorist and a cyclist.
Blanca and Drummond
In today’s case (Matkin v. Hogg) the Plaintiff was travelling on a bicycle Northbound on Blanca Street in Vancouver.  At the same time the Defendant was operating a vehicle travelling in the same direction.  While the Defendant was turning at a stop sign controlled intersection the Plaintiff drove past the vehicle and both collided.  The Defendant did not signal his intended turn and the Plaintiff failed to appreciate there was a stop sign at the intersection.  In finding the cyclist 65% at fault with the motorist shouldering 35% of the blame Mr. Justice Kent provided the following reasons:

[63]         Adopting a robust and pragmatic approach to the evidence and to the circumstances of the collision, I find as a fact that the following sequence of events occurred:

•           Mr. Hogg’s vehicle was parked on the eastside of the road approximately halfway down the block between 2nd Street and Drummond Drive;

•           While it was not completely dark, it was dusk and the street lights were on;

•           Mr. Hogg started his vehicle, thereby illuminating his running lights, and also turned on his headlights and checked his mirrors before pulling out onto the road;

•           When he checked his mirrors he did not see any of the cyclists further up Blanca Street;

•           He travelled north, slowed at the stop sign, likely performed a rolling stop in the absence of any visible traffic from any other direction and once in the intersection started to make a turn to the left in order to complete his intended turn-around maneuver;

•           In the meantime the plaintiff was proceeding northbound down the hill on the Blanca Street towards the intersection and towards Mr. Hogg’s car at approximately 20 km/hr;

•           She was unaware of the existence of a stop sign at the intersection and had not noticed the “stop sign ahead” sign posted further up Blanca Street;

•           Thinking there was no traffic around him, Mr. Hogg did not activate his left turn signal before starting his u-turn maneuver;

•           As she approached the intersection on her bike, the plaintiff formed the impression that the Hogg vehicle ahead of her was going to continue through the intersection in a northbound direction on Blanca Street;

•           At the time she was travelling faster than the Hogg vehicle and the distance between them was closing rapidly;

•           She did not see the stop signal, did not in fact stop or brake, but simply continued to ride over the putative stop line and into the intersection intending to travel north beside or close behind the Hogg vehicle;

•           When the Hogg vehicle started its left turn maneuver in the intersection, the plaintiff simply had no time to take any effective evasive maneuvers and her bike collided with the front left fender of the Hogg vehicle in the vicinity of the wheel well, launching her from her bike and onto the road; and

•           Mr. Hogg either did not check his mirrors at the stop sign and before commencing his turn, or did so and simply failed to see the plaintiff on her bike travelling behind him, but either way there was sufficient illumination from the diminishing daylight and the illuminated street lamps for her to have been visible to Mr. Hogg.

[64]         It follows from these findings of facts that the collision was caused by the actions of both the plaintiff and the defendant. What remains is the manner in which fault should be ascribed and allocated between the two…

[74]         In terms of assessing the relative degrees of fault of the parties, I conclude that the plaintiff’s conduct attracts more blame than that of the defendant’s. Both had similar duties of care vis-à-vis each other but the plaintiff was particularly careless of her own safety. Riding a bike at night on city streets without a light and without a helmet creates a grave risk indeed. It was also deliberate rather than accidental conduct on her part. Further, since she was behind the Hogg vehicle for some period of time before the actual collision, she had a greater opportunity to prevent the accident.

[75]         Pursuant to s. 6 of the Negligence Act the determination of degrees of fault is a question of fact. Based on the totality of the evidence and the considerations referred to above, I find as a fact that the fault for causing this accident rests 35% with the defendant and 65% with the plaintiff herself. Whether that allocation of fault to the plaintiff should be further increased (and the defendant’s liability to make good plaintiff’s loss should be further reduced) by further conduct on her part which increased the extent of loss or injury arising from the accident, e.g. the failure to wear a helmet, is a matter the parties have agreed will be determined at the trial of the damages portion of the case.

Fault For Right Hand Turning Vehicle Striking Cyclist Discussed by BC Supreme Court

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing the issue of fault for a collision involving a right hand turning vehicle and a cyclist attempting to pass the vehicle on the inside lane.

In this week’s case (Nelson v. Lafarge Canada Inc.) the Plaintiff was “cycling hard and fast alongside the Truck as the two approached the Intersection in tandem.  Mr. Nelson’s speed exceeded the Truck’s and it is apparent he was overtaking it on the right as the Truck turned onto Nanaimo.”  There was video of the actual collision presented in evidence and it demonstrated that the Truck driver “did engage the Truck’s right signal prior to executing his right turn onto Nanaimo.  I accept that he did so well before he arrived at the Intersection after the light had turned green.”
As the truck turned, on a still green light, a collision occurred.  Madam Justice Dickson found both parties to blame for the collision with the cyclist bearing 65% of the fault.  In reaching this concluding the Court provided the following reasons:
[77]         I agree with counsel for the defendants that Mr. Conarroe was the dominant driver in the circumstances of this Accident.  He was proceeding on a green light in the appropriate lane and had signaled his right turn well in advance.  He had also looked around as he turned onto Nanaimo and, generally speaking, was entitled to assume that others would obey the rules of the road.  Nevertheless, the presence of cyclists in the adjacent curb lane was both proper and predictable.  In addition, I have found Mr. Conarroe could and should have kept a more vigilant look-out in the period leading up to the right turn to ensure that it could be safely made.
[78]         Had Mr. Conarroe kept a more vigilant look-out after he stopped for the red light on Hastings and before he started his right turn he would have observed Mr. Nelson cycling hard and fast in the curb lane behind or beside him.  It would have been apparent that Mr. Nelson was focusing straight ahead and might attempt to overtake on the right as the two approached the green light, despite the riskiness of such conduct.  Armed with this knowledge, Mr. Conarroe could have avoided the Accident by waiting to commence his turn in the Intersection until it was clear either that Mr. Nelson had abandoned the unfolding attempt to pass on the right or completed it successfully.  His failure to do so was a failure to take reasonable care and a contributing cause of the Accident.
[79]         Mr. Nelson also failed to take reasonable care for his own safety, which failure was a contributing cause of the Accident.  Although, based on Jang, I find that the curb lane was a through lane for cyclists I also find it was unsafe for him to attempt to pass the right-turning Truck when there was little, if any, margin for error associated with such an attempt.  As noted, this was a breach of s. 158(2)(a) of the Act.  It also fell well below the standard of care to be expected of a reasonably competent cyclist in all of the circumstances.
[80]         Mr. Nelson suffered serious harm and damage as a result of the Accident.  The damage has two proximate causes:  the negligence of both parties.  In these circumstances, liability must be apportioned between the two.
[81]         In assessing the respective fault and blameworthiness of the parties I must evaluate the extent or degree to which each departed from the standard of care owed under the circumstances.
[82]         In balancing blameworthiness, I find Mr. Nelson’s conduct constituted a significant departure from the requisite standard of care which created a risk of serious harm.  He was aware of the Truck travelling eastbound on his left but focused only on his own path forward and did not check for an activated right turn signal, which was there to be seen.  Instead, he tried to pass the Truck on the right without first determining whether such a movement could be made safely.  In my view, such conduct was very careless.
[83]         Mr. Conarroe’s conduct also constituted a significant departure from the requisite standard of care, taking into account the vigilance reasonably to be expected of a professional truck driver.  He waited far too long to look carefully and thoroughly around himself as he prepared to turn right.  This is particularly true given his knowledge of the Truck’s many blind spots.  In consequence, Mr. Conarroe was unaware of the fact that Mr. Nelson was cycling hard and fast in the adjacent curb lane after the light changed colour at the Intersection.  This failure was not momentary or minor, and it carried the risk of foreseeable harm of considerable magnitude.  In my view, however, it was not of the same degree as Mr. Nelson’s failure to take reasonable care for his own safety in attempting to pass a right-turning Truck on the right.
[84]         In all of the circumstances, I conclude that 65% of the fault for the Accident should be borne by Mr. Nelson and 35% should be borne by Mr. Conarroe.

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

ERIK
MAGRAKEN

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.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

Disclaimer