Tag: pedestrian accidents

Turning Motorist Found Fully At Fault For Striking Pedestrian in Marked Crosswalk

Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry, assessing fault for a collision involving a vehicle and pedestrian.
In yesterday’s case (Culos v. Chretien) the Plaintiff was struck by a right hand turning vehicle as he was crossing a street in Kamloops BC.    The Plaintiff entered “a zebra crosswalk that was painted on the surface of Lorne Avenue at its intersection with 3rd Avenue.“.  At the same time the Defendant  was attempting a right hand turn onto Lorne Avenue.  Neither parties saw each other and a collision occurred.

The Defendant admitted fault but argued the Plaintiff was partly to blame for the collision.  In rejecting this argument Mr. Justice Rogers provided the following reasons:

[45] I accept the plaintiff’s evidence that he was at or very near the edge of the end of the sidewalk on 3rd Avenue when the unknown lady finished crossing Lorne Street and walked past him. I also accept the defendant’s evidence that she was stopped at the stop line on 3rd as she watched the same unknown lady finish crossing the street. Given those findings, it follows that at the same moment that the plaintiff was standing at the edge of the sidewalk on 3rd, the defendant was stopped at the stop line on 3rd. At that moment, the defendant’s car was behind the plaintiff and somewhat to his left.

[46] I find that when the unknown lady finished crossing Lorne, both parties began to move. The plaintiff entered the crosswalk. At the same time, the defendant moved into the intersection with her car angled to its right. The plaintiff carried on while the defendant stopped briefly at the thin white line painted across the extreme end of 3rd where it joins Lorne. Neither party saw the other. The defendant looked to her rear left to check for traffic on Lorne. At that moment, the plaintiff was established in the crosswalk and was directly in front of the defendant’s car. The defendant then began to move her car forward without first looking in the direction that she was traveling. In the result, the front of her car struck the plaintiff.

[47] The defendant’s submission that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent is superficially attractive – after all, her car was there to be seen. The presence of her car in the intersection at the same time that the plaintiff was in the crosswalk could be thought to constitute an immediate hazard for the plaintiff.

[48] The flaw in the defendant’s argument is this: the plaintiff was established in the crosswalk before the defendant got underway from her second stop to check for traffic. Had the plaintiff seen the defendant, he would have seen her move forward from the stop line, stop at the thin white line, and look back over her left shoulder to check for traffic on Lorne. Given his position in the crosswalk, the plaintiff was entitled to assume that a motorist would give way to him. He could only be found to be careless for his safety if he had stubbornly insisted on maintaining his right?of?way in the face of knowledge that an oncoming motorist was behaving in a way that indicated the motorist would not yield to him. Had the plaintiff been looking at the defendant, he would not have seen anything about her behavior that would have led him to believe that she would not yield to him. That is because he would have seen her move from the stop line on 3rd to the thin white line and stop again while looking over her left shoulder. No one in the plaintiff’s position would have had a reasonable suspicion that the defendant, whose driving up to that moment had been careful and considerate, would nevertheless go forward without first looking at where she was going.

[49] In short: the defendant’s behavior ahead of the collision was not such as to put a reasonable pedestrian in the plaintiff’s position on notice that the defendant was not going to yield to the pedestrian. That hypothetical pedestrian would have reasonably assumed that if the defendant was careful to check for traffic before entering Lorne, she would likewise be careful to look in front of her before she put her car in motion and moved out onto Lorne. Nothing in the evidence suggested that the plaintiff ought to have appreciated that the defendant would do as she did.

[50] Consequently, I find that the collision was entirely the fault of the defendant.

Pedestrian Struck in Cross Walk Found 75% At-Fault for Crossing Against "Don't Walk" Signal


Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, awarding a Plaintiff just over $10,000 for injuries and losses sustained in a cross-walk collision.
In today’s case (Furness v. Guest) the Plaintiff pedestrian was struck by the Defendant’s vehicle as he was trying to cross Nicol Street in Nanaimo, BC.  When the Plaintiff stepped off the curb to cross the street the “don’t walk” signal was flashing but he was not aware of this.  The Defendant was stopped in a tractor-trailer waiting for a green signal.  As the Plaintiff walked in front of the Defendant’s vehicle an advance green arrow illuminated permitting the Defendant to start driving.  The Defendant did not see the Plaintiff and struck him with his vehicle.
Both liability (fault) and quantum (value) were at issue in this trial.  Mr. Justice Halfyard held that the Defendant driver was careless for failing “to keep a proper lookout” and for failing to see the Plaintiff who was “there to be seen“.
The Plaintiff acknowledged that he was also partially at fault.  The Court was asked to determine how much each party was to blame.  Mr. Justice Halfyard found that the Plaintiff was more at fault and apportioned his blame at 75%.  In reaching this distribution of fault the Court reasoned as follows:

[58]         I find that the plaintiff’s degree of fault for the accident is considerably greater than the degree of fault of Mr. Guest. There is no legal formula for determining how fault for an accident should be divided. Counsel for the plaintiff referred me to a number of authorities in support of his submission that Mr. Guest should bear the far greater fault for the accident. Of course, the evidence and the findings of fact are different in all cases. As a consequence, previously-decided cases are of limited assistance at best. I found the cases of Funk v. Carter 2004 BCSC 866 (Williamson J.) and Morrison v. Pankratz 1991 CarswellBC 1765 (Shaw J.) to be of some assistance, particularly in the discussions of the general principles.

[59]         In my opinion, liability should be apportioned as to 25% against Mr. Guest, and 75% as against Mr. Furness, and I so order.

The Court then dealt with the value (quantum) of the Plaintiff’s claim.  The Plaintiff’s injuries and their course of recovery were summarized as follows:

[60]         Most of the injuries sustained by the plaintiff are not in dispute and I find them to be the following:

a)    undisplaced fracture of the posterior aspect of the medial femoral condyle of the right knee;

b)    tiny fracture of the very lateral aspect of the lateral tibial plateau, which was undisplaced;

c)     injury to the soft tissues in and around the right knee joint including a tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus;

d)    other minor contusions and abrasions.

[61]         The plaintiff complained of ongoing pain in his right ankle, which he attributes to the accident of February 13, 2007. ..

[81] I find that, by the time of trial, the plaintiff had substantially recovered from the injuries he sustained in the accident of February 13, 2007. There is no medical opinion evidence which causally connects the plaintiff’s present complaints to his injuries of February 13, 2007. Nor is there any evidence of objective medical findings that confirm the plaintiff’s ongoing complaints of pain in his knee. In these circumstances, I am not satisfied that the necessary causal connection between the accident and the plaintiff’s present complaints of physical pain has been proved. However, I do accept that the plaintiff is still experiencing some intermittent psychological effects from the accident, in the form of nightmares and fear of crossing the street. I find that these psychological effects are diminishing, and should not persist for much longer. The evidence does not establish a real and substantial possibility that these psychological symptoms will persist well into the future.

Mr. Justice Halfyard valued the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $40,000.  The Court then reduced this award by 75% to take into account the Plaintiff’s own blame for his injuries.

$170,000 Non-Pecs for MTBI, Impaired Driver Found "Grossly Negligent"

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court awarding a Plaintiff just over $415,000 in total damages as a result of serious injuries occurring in a motor vehicle collision.
In this week’s case (Eggleston v. Watson) the pedestrian Plaintiff was struck by a vehicle driven by the Defendant.  The Defendant had just left a pub and had a blood alcohol level well over the legal limit.  the Defendant was criminally convicted for driving with an unlawful blood alcohol limit.
As a result of this criminal conviction the Defendant was in breach of his ICBC insurance.  He defended the lawsuit personally and ICBC defended as a statutory third party.
The Defendant never saw the Plaintiff (who was walking in the Defendant’s lane of travel in the same direction) prior to hitting him.   Despite this, and despite the criminal conviction, both the Defendant and ICBC argued that the Plaintiff was mostly at fault for this incident.  Mr. Justice Davies disagreed and found that the defendant was at fault holding that “(his) ability to operate a motor vehicle at the time that he struck (the Plaintiff) was so impaired by his consumption  of alcohol that his actions in so doing were not only negligent, but grossly negligent“.
The Court went on to find that while the Plaintiff was in violation of s. 182 of the Motor Vehicle Act at the time of the crash for not walking on the roadway facing oncoming traffic, he was not partially to blame for this crash.  In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Davies reasoned as follows:

[70]        The question is whether Mr. Eggleston’s own conduct in placing himself at some risk that a severely impaired driver would not see him in time to apply his vehicle’s brakes or otherwise avoid a collision requires an apportionment of some liability to him for his injuries.

[71]        In all of the circumstances I find, as did Kirkpatrick J. in Laface, that Mr. Watson’s conduct was so unforeseeable, and the risk of injury from Mr. Eggleston’s failure to take more care so unlikely that “it is simply not appropriate” to find that Mr. Eggleston was contributorily negligent.

[72]        If I am wrong in that conclusion, based upon the analysis and conclusions of Esson J.A. in Giuliani, I would assess Mr. Eggleston’s fault in failing to avoid the collision to be no more than 5%.

The Court then awarded the Plaintiff $170,000 for his non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) for his serious injuries which included a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).  In arriving at this figure the Court provided the following reasons:

[145]     After considering the totality of the evidence in this trial including the medical evidence adduced by the parties, I have concluded that Mr. Eggleston has proven that it is more likely than not that he suffered a mild traumatic brain injury in the collision of June 9, 2009.

[146]     I also find that the mild traumatic brain injury he suffered is the primary cause of the emotional, social and cognitive difficulties he has exhibited and endured over the more than three years between the date of the accident and the start of the trial, and which will continue to impact his future suffering and enjoyment of life…

[157]     In addition to the mild traumatic brain injury that I find has been the primary cause of Mr. Eggleston’s past social, emotional, and cognitive problems as well his as continuing problems with serious headaches, all of which will likely continue to impact his future, as well as the balance difficulties that I find were caused by the collision, I also find that the evidence establishes on a balance of probabilities that Mr. Watson’s negligence caused the following physical injuries which Mr. Eggleston has suffered and from some of which continues to suffer:

1)        Significant soft tissue injuries and bruising which were ongoing until at least January of 2007 when he was seen by Dr. Travlos.

2)        A traumatic umbilical hernia which was successfully operated upon on May 29, 2007.

3)        Injuries to his right shoulder including a torn biceps tendon, impingement syndrome and a rotator cuff tear which were operated on without success on December 5, 2007, and which in the opinion of Dr. Leith, require further surgery.

4)        Injuries to his lower back which aggravated existing back problems from which he had largely recovered prior to the collision. Those lower back injuries have impacted on his ability to drive the water truck in his work for Mr. Palfi and in respect of which I accept Dr. Leith’s opinion of June 2, 2009.

[158]     In addition to those specific physical injuries, I accept the evidence of Dr. Travlos, Dr. Cameron, Dr. Smith and Dr. Bishop that Mr. Eggleston has suffered and continues to suffer from psychological problems arising from his brain injuries and the pain associated with the physical injuries suffered in the collision. That pain was chronic until at least June of 2009 but was relieved to a large extent by narcotic and other medications thereafter until Mr. Eggleston determined to wean himself off Dilaudid. He now again has more pain and is also likely suffering the continuing effects of withdrawal. However, his present work history convinces me that within the neurological and cognitive limits that may still compromise his recovery, his future suffering from chronic pain will likely be capable of amelioration with psychological counselling and pain management assistance without narcotic intervention.

[159]     In determining the appropriate award to compensate Mr. Eggleston for the injuries suffered in the collision, I have considered all of the injuries suffered by him that were caused by Mr. Watson’s negligence, their devastating effect upon his ability to enjoy the active life involving horses and his relationship with friends and family surrounding that lifestyle that he formerly enjoyed.

[160]     I have also considered the pain Mr. Eggleston has endured and will likely continue to endure at least at some level, the compromise of his role as the leader of his family and the loss of his self-esteem, the length of time over which he has already suffered those losses, the prospect of the continuation of those losses into the future, albeit at a less intense level than in the past, and the fact that he will again have to undergo surgery in an attempt to repair his shoulder injuries.

[161]     In addition, I have considered the situation that has existed since March of 2008 when Mr. Eggleston returned to work, in that the work he does drains him of energy so that his life has become somewhat one-dimensional, centering upon work and recovery from its daily effects upon him to the continued detriment of his ability to enjoy life.

[162]     Finally, I have considered all of the authorities which have been provided to me by counsel and which offer some guidance as to the appropriate range of damages for injuries such as those suffered by Mr. Eggleston but which are of course dependent on their unique fact situations.

[163]     I have concluded that in the totality of the circumstances an award of non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $170,000 will appropriately compensate Mr. Eggleston for his pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life caused by Mr. Watson’s negligence.

Hearsay Evidence: BC Injury Trials and Missing/Deceased Witnesses


Hearsay evidence is an out of Court statement introduced at trial for the truth of its contents.  In British Columbia hearsay evidence is admissible in certain circumstances.  BC Courts apply a ‘principled exception‘ to the general rule against hearsay evidence in circumstances where there is sufficient ‘necessity and reliability‘.
What happens if a key witness dies before a personal injury claim in BC heads to trial?  Can previously recorded evidence from that witness be introduced under this ‘principled exception‘?  Reasons for judgement were published this week on the BC Supreme Court website dealing with this issue.
In this week’s case (Simon v. Portsmith) the Plaintiff suffered very serious injuries when he was struck by a vehicle as he was walking along a highway in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.
A key question at trial was weather the owner of the vehicle consented to the driver operating the car.  Another important issue was where the Defendant driver lived at the time of the accident.  The owner of the vehicle could have been ‘vicariously liable‘ for the driver’s actions depending on the answers to these questions.
A witness by the name of Mr. Stushnov was expected to give evidence on where the alleged driver was living at the time of the crash.  Prior to trial Mr. Stushnov swore an affidavit setting out his evidence on this point.  The witness died unexpectedly prior to trial.  The Defendant tried to introduce the affidavit as evidence.  The Plaintiff objected.  Mr. Justice Boyce let the evidence in providing the following useful analysis:

[13] In the case at bar, the plaintiff concedes that the evidence is necessary. Mr. Stushnov is no longer available to testify. The issue is whether the evidence meets the threshold reliability test.

[14] The evidence was taken under oath before a lawyer. Mr. Stushnov was not involved with the events giving rise to this claim in any way. There is no suggestion that he had any personal relationship with Mr. Portsmith other than by providing him a place to live for a period of time. There is no suggestion of any reason that he might have to not tell the truth. He had no interest in the outcome of this proceeding. He was an independent witness.

[15] It is of course true that the plaintiff would now have no way to test Mr. Stushnov’s credibility through cross-examination. However, as counsel for the plaintiff on this motion frankly stated, when the matter was before the court on the Rule 18A application, the credibility of Mr. Stushnov was not in issue and was not raised. What was in issue was the credibility of Mrs. Bostock.

[16] Further, as noted by counsel for the defendant, plaintiff’s counsel has known since 2005 what evidence Mr. Stushnov was expected to give. They chose not to interview the witness to test his credibility.

[17] This evidence is clearly important to the defence. In my view, despite the fact that the plaintiff does not have the ability to cross-examine the deponent, which is something that is often the case when resort has to be made to hearsay evidence, the circumstances surrounding the making of the statement provide sufficient safeguards of reliability to justify its admissibility. The affidavit will therefore be received in evidence.

$35,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Chronic Low Back Pain With Poor Prognosis

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, awarding a Plaintiff just over $64,000 in total damages as a result of BC car crash.
In this week’s case (Elgood v. Ellison) the Plaintiff was injured in 2006 when he was struck by a vehicle in Langley, BC.  The Plaintiff was walking in a marked cross-walk with the right of way when the Defendant driver made a left hand turn and struck the Plaintiff.  Fault was admitted and the trial focused solely on the value of the Plaintiff’s claim.
The Plaintiff suffered minor injuries to his legs and neck which quickly and fully recovered.  His most serious symptom was low back pain which persisted from the time of the accident through trial.   The evidence accepted by the Court was that the Plaintiff had mechanical pain around the lumbar spine and that these symptoms may be an ongoing problem for the Plaintiff.
(highlighted portion of illustration depicts the lumbar spine)
In awarding the 65 year old Plaintiff $35,000 for his non-pecuniary damages Mr. Justice Bracken made the following notable findings:

[39]        Dr. Hirsch concluded that the plaintiff has made a full recovery with respect to his legs and that he had a relatively minor neck injury that has now essentially resolved.

[40]        The more difficult problem is the lower lumbar spine area and Dr. Hirsch said that this condition was likely caused by the accident.  He described it as likely mechanical in nature and that it is exacerbated by stress or loading on the back.  He believes that the plaintiff should continue his home-based exercise program and perhaps attend for structured appointments with a kinesiologist or physiotherapist.  He also thought that some exercise such as tai chi, yoga, pilates or water-based exercises would be helpful.

[41]        He concluded that the plaintiff’s restrictions were attributable to chronic low back pain that was caused by the accident and that the prognosis for complete recovery was guarded given the plaintiff’s age and the duration of the symptoms.

[42]        He did believe that the plaintiff should be capable of performing his domestic chores but that he may have to pace himself and that he will have ongoing problems with more strenuous activities such as lifting, snow shovelling or completing significant household repairs.  He did not foresee any need for future care or for any surgery.

[43]        In summary, it appears that the plaintiff’s leg and shoulder injuries resolved very quickly and his neck pain diminished gradually over time, to the point where it is now only occasional pain and of a non-debilitating nature.  He had some early headaches which have now become occasional.

[44]        The significant pain that the plaintiff suffers is chronic low back pain that Dr. Hirsch predicts will likely be with him for the foreseeable future.  No doubt the low back pain will prevent him from doing many jobs, particularly those that require long periods of sitting.  Given his age and background, it is most likely that sedentary jobs will most likely be what are available to him.  He has sharply reduced his recreation, although some of the intense recreational and physical activities engaged in by the plaintiff would likely diminish in intensity over time due to the normal aging process regardless of his injury.  He will likely still have the ability to engage in mild recreational activities. The plaintiff says that even mild recreation or physical activity is too painful for him.

[45]        As Dr. Hirsch pointed out at p. 6 of his January 20, 2009 report:

Three years have elapsed since Mr. Elgood suffered his low back injury in the subject motor vehicle accident.  Given the duration of his symptoms, the prognosis regarding complete resolution of his low back pain has to be viewed as guarded at this juncture.  Given the temporal profile to date, I would consider it more likely than not that Mr. Elgood will experience low back pain indefinitely.  Low back symptoms of sufficient intensity will probably limit his ability to perform tasks which biomechanically stress his low back…

[51] While the plaintiff has been able to carry on with work, he and his wife both said that he has only been able to do so by enduring a level of chronic pain.  Based on the opinion of Dr. Hirsch, which I accept, his condition is not likely to be alleviated over time.  Bearing in mind his age and the impact of his injuries on his personal life and work life since the accident, in my view, the range of damages is between that of the plaintiff and defendant and I assess general damages at $35,000.

BC Supreme Court Discusses Pedestrian Visibility in Negligence Claims


Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court considering whether a pedestrian involved in a collision was at fault for not being visible enough to the motorist.
In yesterday’s case (Smaill v. Williams) the pedestrian was struck by a minivan while he was walking on a dirt road in dusk conditions.  When he heard the vehicle approaching he “took a few quick steps to the side out of the travelled path of the road”.  Unfortunately he could not get out of the way and was “thrown up onto the hood, striking his back and shoulders, and then was thrown to the ground on his hands and knees“.
The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident for wearing dark clothing, not having a flashlight and not wearing a reflective traffic vest.  Madam Justice Russell rejected this argument and in doing so provided the following reasons:

[68] I accept the plaintiff’s evidence that it was dusk but not dark enough for him to require a flashlight and therefore the plaintiff was not contributorily negligent and the defendants’ liability should not be reduced as such.

[69] I note as well, that while carrying a flashlight might be a prudent practice for all pedestrians in dark areas, it is not a universal or even common requirement, no more than it is wise, but not common, for pedestrians to wear reflective traffic vests.

[70] I note, too, that the plaintiff testified he paid heed to the sound of the oncoming car and took several steps off the roadway to be out of its way.

[71] I find the plaintiff did take reasonable care for his own safety by trying to stand well out of the roadway and to avoid the oncoming vehicle.

[72] I find no contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff.

The Plaintiff suffered some serious injuries to his spine which were expected to cause some permanent restrictions.  In valuing the non-pecuniary damages at $100,000 the Court summarized the injuries and their effect on the Plaintiff’s life as follows:

[62] I accept the evidence of Dr. McKenzie.  I found him to be a careful and persuasive witness.  I accept his medical finding that the plaintiff suffered a fracture of the tranverse processes at L3 and L4, an injury to the sacroiliac joint and that formerly asymptomatic disc bulges and protrusions became symptomatic as a result of his injuries.  I accept that the plaintiff has proved on a balance of probabilities that the symptoms, including non-specific back pain that he currently suffers from, including disc protrusion, were caused by the first accident and the pain from those injuries was aggravated by the second accident.

[63] While none of the doctors could say with certainty that the disc problems were caused by the accident, this is not the standard required.  Dr. McKenzie testified, and I accept, that it is more probable than not that they were caused by the injury.  This is supported by the evidence of Dr. Dercksen who noted the injuries were more than normal degeneration for someone of the plaintiff’s age.

[64] Therefore, I agree with the plaintiff that, on a balance of probabilities, but for the negligence of the defendants, the plaintiff would not have sustained the injuries that he did, and  the plaintiff has met the test for causation:  Resurfice Corp. v. Hanke, 2007 SCC 7 at paras. 18-28, [2007] 1 S.C.R. 333. ..

[87] As a result of these accidents, the plaintiff sustained significant injuries and suffered from a great deal of pain, for which he is entitled to recover damages.  However, while I have the greatest sympathy for the plaintiff’s emotional suffering, there is evidence before this Court that this is a pre-existing condition from which the plaintiff had already been suffering and therefore this is not a ‘thin-skull’ situation.  The defendants are not liable to compensate the plaintiff for a condition which was already manifest at the time of the accident.

[88] In light of the plaintiff’s suffering, and taking into consideration his pre-exisiting condition and its contribution to his chronic pain, an award of $100,000 for non-pecuniary damages is appropriate.

Pedestrian Struck on Road at Night Found 90% at Fault for Crash

Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with the issue of fault in a pedestrian collision case.
In today’s case (O’Connor v. James) the Plaintiff was walking along No. 6 Road in Richmond, BC, when he was struck by the Defendants vehicle.  The Plaintiff consumed some alcohol before the collision and was struck while he was walking on the actual roadway (as opposed to the shoulder) at the time of impact.  As a consequence the Court found that the Plaintiff was in breach of various provisions of the BC Motor (Vehicle) Act.
Specifically, Mr. Justice Burnyeat made the following findings of fact with respect to this accident:
[22] It was the consensus of all witnesses that Mr. O’Connor was dressed entirely in black that night and was wearing no reflective clothing.  I also find that the approaching vehicle driven by Mr. Hockley had the low beams activated.  I also find that the street light at the corner of No. 6 Road and Triangle Road was not operating.  Taking into account all of the evidence, I find that Mr. O’Connor was on the road surface, and not on the grass median beside the southbound lane of No. 6 Road when he was hit….

[23] I accept the evidence of Ms. Journeau, Mr. Hockley, Ms. Kamayah, and Mr. James that Mr. O’Connor was in the southbound lane of No. 6 Road when he was hit by the vehicle driven by Mr. James.  I find that it would have been impossible for the collision to have occurred on the grassy median and for the vehicle driven by Mr. James to have come to rest where it did if the contact with Mr. O’Connor had been on the grassy median.  Walking where he was walking, Mr. O’Connor violated a number of provisions of the Motor (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 319:

179      (2)  A pedestrian must not leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close it is impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way.

182      (1)  If there is a sidewalk that is reasonable passable on either or both sides of a highway, a pedestrian must not walk on a roadway.

(2)  If there is no sidewalk, a pedestrian walking along or on a highway must walk only on the extreme left side of the roadway or the shoulder of the highway, facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.

[35] From the evidence, I make the following findings:  (a) the temperature that night in the area approached the freezing point; (b) the road surface was either icy or covered with dew as a result of the new-freezing atmospheric conditions; (c) the posted speed limit on No. 6 Road is 50 km/h; (d) the vehicle being driving by Mr. James was travelling at somewhere between 55 km/h and 65 km/h that night; (e) it was the intention of Mr. James to make a left turn at the intersection of No. 6 Road and Triangle Road and this intersection which would be to the left of Mr. James was being approached by Mr. James; (f) the vehicle driven by Mr. Hockley was being driven towards Mr. James and the low-beam lights of the Hockley vehicle were activated; and (g) the street light at the intersection of No. 6 Road and Triangle Road was not operative so that illumination of No. 6 Road at that point was diminished.

The court went on to find that the Pedestrian Plaintiff was 90% to blame for this collision and that the Defendant motorist was 10% to blame.  In dividing fault this way Mr. Justice Burnyeat made the following analysis:

I am satisfied that Mr. James was negligent in the operation of the vehicle which struck Mr. O’Connor.  Mr. James ignored the road conditions, visibility on No. 6 Road, the speed limits, his knowledge that there were no sidewalks, and his knowledge that there might be pedestrians.  All of these factors contributed to a need for Mr. James to drive more slowly than even the speed limit which was in effect.  Mr. James owed a duty of care to Mr. O’Connor and did not meet that duty by driving his car at the speed he was going when it hit Mr. O’Connor….

It is clear that the judgment of Mr. O’Connor was somewhat impaired by alcohol.  As well, he was dressed entirely in black without reflective clothing.  His clothing made it difficult if not impossible for drivers to see him.  Contrary to s. 182(2) of the Motor (Vehicle) Act, Mr. O’Connor was not walking facing traffic, and was not walking on the shoulder of No. 6 Road.  Mr. James has shown that the conduct of Mr. O’Connor that evening showed a want of reasonable care for his own safety and that this contributed to causing his injuries.  Mr. James has proven that Mr. O’Connor did not conduct himself in a reasonable manner so that his injuries could have been avoided or, at least, diminished.  In the circumstances, I assess liability at 90% against Mr. O’Connor and 10% against Mr. James.

Can you be at Fault for a Crash if you have the Statutory Right of Way?

The short answer is yes and reasons for judgment were released today demonstrating this.
In today’s case (Karran v. Anderson) the Plaintiff was seriously injured when she was struck by the Defendant’s vehicle while she was jogging “against the light in a marked crosswalk“.  As a consequence of the impact the Plaintiff “was thrown fifty-seven feet in the air and landed in the south crosswalk…She suffered an occipital hematoma, a fractured left femur, a dislocated right knee…back and neck injuries as well as extensive bruises and abrasions.”
At the time of the accident the Defendant had a green light and he was not speeding.  The Plaintiff, on the other hand, was jaywalking.  Nonetheless Mr. Justice Cohen of the BC Supreme Court found that the Defendant was partially at fault for this crash.  How can this be?  The reason is the determination of fault in BC Personal Injury Claims (with the exception of intentional torts) is governed under the common law of Negligence.  A person can be found negligent even if they did not brake any statutory law during an accident.  Mr. Justice Cohen summarized this principle concisely stating that ” the authorities establish that the common law duty of care exists notwithstanding statutory rights of way and that a breach of a statutory right of way merely provides evidence in support of a finding of a negligent breach of the common law duty of care
In today’s case the court made the following findings of fact about how the collision occurred:
I find that the plaintiff jogged across Howe Street against the light in the north crosswalk in front of vehicles that were stopped in the two middle southbound lanes; that the southbound vehicles that were stopped when the plaintiff passed in front of them had the green light; that just before the plaintiff was struck by the truck she glanced to her left looking north up Howe street in the east curb lane; that there was heavy rush hour traffic; that the east curb lane on Howe street was open to southbound traffic; that some of the westbound traffic travelling on Smithe Street had failed to clear the intersection thereby preventing other westbound vehicles from entering the intersection; that the defendant’s speed reached 50 km/h; and, that the defendant braked his vehicle just prior to the collision.
The court found that the Defendant was 25% to blame for this collision because he failed “to take any steps to avoid the accident“.  In coming to this conclusion Mr. Justice Cohen highlighted the following facts:
[65] Thus, in the case at bar the first issue to decide is whether the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff with regard to the circumstances that existed in the intersection at the time of the accident.  In my opinion, he did.  I find that the possibility of danger emerging was reasonably apparent such that special precautions should have been taken by the defendant: there was rush hour traffic; despite the fact that the traffic light for southbound traffic on Howe Street had turned to green, the vehicles in the middle two lanes on Howe Street immediately to the west of the defendant’s lane of travel did not proceed through the intersection; westbound traffic on Smithe Street was backed up into the intersection preventing some westbound vehicles from proceeding through the intersection; there were pedestrians in the area of the intersection; and, the defendant’s view of the intersection was blocked by the southbound vehicles that were stopped in the middle two lanes on Howe Street…

[67]         The defendant was proceeding on a green light and thus had the right of way.  However, I find that the defendant did not keep a proper lookout.  He failed to observe that there were vehicles stopped in the middle two lanes on Howe Street.  I find that by failing to observe that the vehicles in the middle two lanes had not proceeded on the green light, and proceeding into the intersection at 50 km/h, he acted in breach of the duty placed upon him to take special precautions in the circumstances.

[68]         Finally, I find that the opportunity existed for the defendant to take action to avoid colliding with the plaintiff…

[100] The defendant accelerated from the intersection at the intersection of Howe and Robson Streets to reach 50 km/h and he maintained this speed to virtually the point of impact with the plaintiff.  I agree with the plaintiff that driving at the speed limit in the east curb lane while the vehicles in the middle two lanes were stopped on a green light was not reasonable nor prudent given the traffic conditions at the intersection.

This case contains a lengthy and thorough discussion of the law regarding the duties of motorists and pedestrians in crosswalk accidents and is worth reviewing in full for anyone researching or involved in a liability case dealing with the same.

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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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