Skip to main content

Tag: Lee v. Pham

Driver Fully At Fault For Striking Pedestrian Standing on Street Side of her Vehicle

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing fault for a collision when a motorist lost control in winter driving conditions.
In this week’s case (Lee v. Phan) the Plaintiff was struck by the Defendant’s vehicle as she was standing on the street side of her own vehicle.  The Plaintiff was retrieving groceries from her car and had to walk around the street side of her vehicle as there was a snow bank preventing her from walking to the sidewalk past the rear of her vehicle.  At the same time the Defendant was driving and was concerned the Plaintiff was going to jaywalk in front of his vehicle.   He hit his brakes and ended up steering into the plaintiff.  The Court found the Plaintiff was not about to jaywalk and the Defendant’s actions were negligent. In assessing fault fully with the Defendant Mr. Justice Blok provided the following reasons:
[50]         I find that Ms. Lee did not attempt to jaywalk across Renfrew Street, nor did she intend to do so.  There was no evidence to support this other than Mr. Phan’s impression that this is what “the shadow” seemed to be about to do.  I conclude that Mr. Phan’s impression was an erroneous one…
[56]         Both parties cited a number of cases involving collisions with pedestrians at crosswalks or collisions where wintery conditions were a significant factor.  In view of my finding that Ms. Lee made no attempt to cross Renfrew Street I do not find the crosswalk or jaywalking cases to be particularly helpful.  The winter driving cases establish little more than the general proposition that drivers should adjust their driving and use caution appropriate to the conditions…
[64]         Mr. Phan testified that he turned his vehicle into the snowbank because he felt this was his only option given his conclusion that Ms. Lee was about to jaywalk in front of him.  This, I have found, was an erroneous conclusion.  Had he continued straight ahead there would have been no collision.  Mr. Phan also seems to have been under the impression that one should never apply the brakes of a vehicle in icy conditions.  This is obviously wrong, as the appropriate response is to apply cyclical braking, as confirmed by the plaintiff’s engineer, Mr. Rempel.  For all of these reasons I conclude that Mr. Phan was negligent.
[65]         As for Ms. Lee, I am unable to accept the defendant’s suggestion that she ought to be found to be contributorily negligent.  She was not in a place that posed a hazard or obstruction to traffic, she was wearing a white coat and she was facing in the correct direction towards oncoming traffic.  The defendant has not established that Ms. Lee had any realistic opportunity to get out of the way.  I see no negligence on her part.