Tag: fault and left hand turning vehcles

Intersections, Left Hand Turns and ICBC Injury Claims

(Note: The case discussed in this post was overturned by the BC Court of Appeal om May 3, 2010 with a 75% / 25% split of liability.  You can click here to read the BC Court of Appeal’s judgement)
One of the toughest types of ICBC injury cases to predict the outcome of are those involving the issue of fault when 2 vehicles collide in an intersection.  Even some of the most seasoned ICBC Injury Claims Lawyers can’t predict the outcome of a case where a left hand turning driver on an amber light is stuck by a through driver.  There are plenty of cases dealing with such crashes and the results vary from finding the left turning vehicle 100% at fault to those finding the through driver 100% and every imaginable split in between.
Reasons for judgement were released today dealing with an intersection crash finding a left hand turning  vehicle 100% responsible for an intersection crash.  In today’s case (Salaam v. Abramovic) the Plaintiff was turning left at the intersection of Scott Road and 120th Street in Surrey, BC.  This intersection is controlled by a stop sign.  As the Plaintiff was turning left her vehicle was struck by the Defendant’s.  Madam Justice Gropper made the following analysis in finding the Plaintiff 100% at fault:

[40] The essence of the plaintiff’s position is that the defendant should have foreseen what the plaintiff would do: he knew that the plaintiff intended to make a left hand turn, crossing the northbound traffic and entering the southbound lane to Scott Rd.; he knew that her attention was to her right for approaching southbound traffic.  He should have known that the plaintiff was moving slowly across the northbound lanes and would continue to do so despite the presence of the defendant’s vehicle.  She argues that the defendant had no reason to assume that she was aware of the defendant’s approach.

[41] The plaintiff relies on the provisions of s. 175(1) of the Act.  She says that once she entered the intersection, the defendant’s vehicle had not nor was it approaching so closely that it constituted an immediate hazard.  Essentially, when she entered the intersection it was safe to do so and the defendant ought to have yielded the right of way to her.

[42] The plaintiff was the left turning vehicle.  It was her obligation, in accordance with s. 174 of the Act, to yield the right of way to the traffic approaching from the opposite direction.  The plaintiff did not turn her head to observe whether traffic was approaching.  Nor did the plaintiff comply with the provisions of s. 175 of the Act.  She did not stop before entering the intersection.   The plaintiff did not do anything to ascertain whether there was traffic on the through highway, or whether it was close.  She did not proceed with caution, despite driving slowly.

[43] The unassailable fact is that the defendant was there to be seen from 450 feet away from the plaintiff before she entered the intersection.

[44] The plaintiff argues that the defendant had no reason to assume that she was aware of his approach.  Putting aside for the moment that was her duty to determine whether there was traffic approaching on the through highway, he was entitled to assume that she did know he was approaching, by hearing him, or to expect that she would actually turn her head to observe approaching traffic.

[45] I agree with the analysis in Pacheco that it was the plaintiff’s obligation, as she wished to make a left turn at the intersection, not to proceed until she could do so safely.  The plaintiff did not determine whether her turn could be done safely.

[46] The authorities upon which the plaintiff relies, as well as the provisions of the Act, require, at the very least that all drivers keep a proper lookout.

[47] The dispute between the experts devolves to when the defendant’s approach constituted an immediate hazard to the plaintiff.  The defendant’s expert, Mr. Lawrence, describes the defendant becoming an immediate hazard to the plaintiff when she enters the left lane of the northbound traffic.  The plaintiff’s expert, Mr. Brown, considers that the plaintiff’s vehicle was an immediate hazard to the defendant when she entered the intersection.

[48] Mr. Brown’s analysis ignores the provisions of ss. 174 and 175 of the Act, which require the left turning vehicle to first stop, and then yield the right of way to traffic approaching so closely that it constitutes an immediate hazard, and then proceed with caution.  The plaintiff did none of those things, she did not stop at the stop sign, she did not ascertain whether there was any through traffic, whether such traffic constituted an immediate hazard or not, nor did she proceed with caution.  Mr. Brown’s analysis requires the defendant to anticipate that the plaintiff was not following the rules of the road.

[49] Mr. Lawrence considers that the immediate hazard arose when the plaintiff entered the left lane of the northbound traffic.  I agree.  The plaintiff was driving very slowly and could stop almost immediately.  It was reasonable for the defendant to assume that she was aware of his presence and that she would not move into his path.  She did.  When the defendant honked, the plaintiff stopped.  It was the plaintiff’s presence in the defendant’s lane of travel which caused the accident.

[50] The plaintiff did not ascertain whether the defendant was an immediate hazard when she entered the intersection.  In all the circumstances, I find that the plaintiff is 100% liable for the collision which occurred.

[51] Therefore, the plaintiff’s claim is dismissed.  The defendant shall have his costs.

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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.

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