Tag: section 157 Motor Vehicle Act

BC Court of Appeal Confirms Negligence for Passing Vehicle Blanketing Others in Snow

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal confirming that a motorist can be negligent by passing others in poor conditions therby blanketing the other vehicles in snow.
In today’s case (Link v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was travelling in winter driving conditions when “the front windshield of his vehicle (was blanketed with snow by a passing sport utility vehicle” following which the Plaintiff lost visibility, tapped his brakes, and lost control of his vehicle resulting in a single vehicle collision.
At trial the Defendant vehicle was found at fault for the collision.  ICBC’s appeal was dismissed with the BC Court of Appeal finding negligence can exist in these circumstances.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[12]        It appears to me it was clearly open to the judge to find that the speed of the SUV was excessive for the conditions. The plaintiff was travelling 40 to 60 kilometers per hour and, on his examination for discovery (the whole transcript of which ICBC put in evidence), he said the SUV “roared right by” and suggested it was twice as fast as he was “putting along”. He agreed that could have been 100 kilometers an hour, although he said he could not speculate because it all happened so fast. There was, of course, no evidence to the contrary and common sense dictates that, as any driver would know, the greater the speed of a vehicle the greater the amount of snow it may throw up when changing lanes on a snow-covered highway. It simply could not be said that if the SUV had passed more slowly and had not cut in front of the Jaguar as quickly as it did, the windshield of the Jaguar would have been completely obscured as it was. The speed of the SUV was excessive for the conditions because of the effect its speed had.

[13]        In my view, no error has been shown in the judge’s concluding that, in what he described as the “treacherous” conditions prevailing, the driver of the SUV had not met the standard of care required of him in the circumstances. That vehicle was required to be operated with due care and attention and with reasonable consideration for the plaintiff who was driving the Jaguar at a slow speed in the right-hand land. If undertaken, the passing and change of lanes was required to be done safely without adversely affecting the travel of that vehicle. It was open to the judge to conclude as he did the driver of the SUV knew or ought to have known the risk that was inherent in his operating that vehicle as he did. Clearly the standard of care was breached.

[14]        It follows that I would dismiss the appeal.

Motorist Liable for Collision After Blanketing Other Vehicle in Snow

Update December 16, 2015the reasoning in the below decison was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal today.
Interesting reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing fault for a single vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Link v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was travelling in winter driving conditions when “the front windshield of his vehicle (was blanketed with snow by a passing sport utility vehicle” following which the Plaintiff lost visibility, tapped his brakes, and lost control of his vehicle resulting in a single vehicle collision.
In finding the passing vehicle was fully at fault for passing when it was unsafe to do so Mr. Justice Ball provided the following reasons:

[17]         To determine whether the driver of the SUV was negligent, the Court must follow the analysis outlined in Crocker and Rowe. The driver of the SUV, as the driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle on the highway, owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. That duty is statutorily mandated in ss. 157-159 of the MVA.

[18]         Those sections also outline the required standard of care. Section 157 requires that the driver of an overtaking vehicle may only pass another vehicle on the left side “at a safe distance and must not cause or permit the vehicle to return to the right side of the highway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle”. Section 159 states that “a driver of a vehicle must not drive to the left side of roadway when overtaking and passing another vehicle unless the driver can do so safely.”

[19]         In the case at bar, the highway was blanketed with a large amount of snow that was clearly visible for all drivers to see, which made driving a treacherous task. Despite the poor road and weather conditions, the driver of the SUV blew by Mr. Link at a high speed in the left lane. Unlike the situation in Lang, where Hood J. found that the spray was unanticipated and a surprise to the overtaking driver, the driver of the SUV, given the conditions, would have – or should have – appreciated the likelihood that the act of passing at high speed and returning to the slow lane immediately in front of the overtaken vehicle would result in a significant amount of snow being thrown onto the overtaken vehicle causing a total loss of visibility. This risk could have been avoided by the driver of the SUV by passing at a lower rate of speed and not returning to the slow lane abruptly.

[20]         There is, in my view, a very heavy onus on the driver of an overtaking vehicle to make sure that passing can be done in safety; particularly in poor road and weather conditions. The driver of the SUV in this case did not respect the circumstances that the standard of care dictated. That driver was in clear breach of the standard of care.

[21]         Mr. Link did not voluntarily accept the risk that another driver on the highway would fail to pass him in safety. As for causation, I am satisfied that, as in Rowe, the unsafe pass “precipitated a chain of events” which culminated in Mr. Link’s accident. The driver of the SUV “roared right by” Mr. Link and “a big rooster tail of snow completed covered [the] windshield”. This caused Mr. Link to lose complete visibility, and he tapped his brakes because he could not see. The Link Vehicle then spun out and hit the median. I find, in the circumstances, that the driver of the SUV caused the accident.

[22]         No contributory negligence has been proven by the defendant. Mr. Link was in a smaller vehicle competing with bad weather and snow conditions. I find that Mr. Link was driving in a safe manner at low speed consistent with the difficult conditions. I also find that Mr. Link’s actions in tapping his brakes was a reasonable reaction to losing total forward visibility.

[23]         In the result I am satisfied that Mr. Link has proven on a balance of probabilities that the driver of the SUV was negligent in all of the circumstances of this case.

Driver Found 10% At Fault for Timing a Green Light


As previously discussed, having the right of way does not automatically result in a driver being found faultless for a collision.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this.
In this week’s case (Matheson v. Fichten) the Plaintiff was a passenger in a Northbound vehicle in a designated left hand turn lane.  The advance green arrow ran its course resulting in a green light for North and south bound traffic.  The driver proceeded with his turn despite no longer having the advance green arrow.
At the same time the Defendant was driving Southbound in the curb lane.  He was several car lengths back from the intersection when his light turned green.  Other Southbound vehicles began to accelerate but then stopped realizing the Plaintiff vehicle was turning.  The Defendant did not stop and entered the intersection when the collision occurred.
Despite having the right of way the Southbound Defendant was found 10% at fault for the collision.  In coming to this assessment Madam Justice Smith provided the following reasons for judgement:
[57] I find that the Bahniwal vehicle was travelling at the speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour, or perhaps a bit less, as it proceeded up the southbound curb lane.  I accept Mr. Kaler’s evidence that Mr. Bahniwal had slowed when the light ahead was red, but then resumed speed after the light turned green, two to three car lengths from the intersection.  I find that the presence of vehicles in the two lanes to his left obscured Mr. Bahniwal’s view of what was occurring in the intersection except for the portion immediately in front of him.  The vehicles in the two lanes to Mr. Bahniwal’s left began to move forward, but they stopped almost immediately.  Mr. Bahniwal overtook those vehicles and passed them on the right, entering the intersection on a green light but without noting that the vehicles to his left had stopped, or taking any particular precaution before entering the intersection…

[61] I have found as fact that Mr. Bahniwal proceeded through the intersection on a green light.  Accordingly, he had the right of way.  His was the dominant vehicle; Mr. Fichten’s vehicle was in the servient position.

[62] The question in the end is whether either Mr. Fichten or Mr. Bahniwal  or both, was in breach of the duty of care he owed to the plaintiff.  I take into account the Motor Vehicle Act provisions as informing the requisite standard of care (Ryan v. Victoria, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 201 at para. 29).

[63] It is clear that Mr. Fichten was negligent in making his left turn when it was unsafe to do so after the light had changed, and in particular by crossing the curb lane of southbound traffic without checking that it was free of oncoming vehicles.

[64] Turning to Mr. Bahniwal, what is the duty of a driver who enters an intersection in the circumstances that faced him?  He was in the curb lane, his view of the intersection was blocked by other vehicles, and those vehicles, having entered the intersection, had subsequently stopped…

[78] In my opinion, when the light facing Mr. Bahniwal turned green and the vehicles on his left proceeded forward and then stopped, Mr. Bahniwal had the opportunity to recognize, and should have recognized, that something had caused them to stop.  His approach into the intersection should then have been tempered with caution, even though he had the light in his favour and had built up some momentum.  He did not take that approach but, instead, proceeded at the speed limit into the intersection.  His vehicle was in the dominant position, but he was not entitled to overlook a clear indication of a possible hazard in the fact that the vehicles to his left had stopped very soon after having begun to move.  The traffic was not backed up in the southbound lanes, as it was inRobinson v. Wong, and the timing of the vehicles stopping was inexplicable from his vantage point.  A careful driver would have reacted to the possibility that a left-turning vehicle, a pedestrian, or some other hazard was still in the intersection.

[79] I find that Mr. Bahniwal was in breach of his duty of care, and allocate liability 10% to him and 90% to Mr. Fichten.

The Dangers of Passing Vehicles Near Intersections

When a driver proceeds into the on-coming lane of travel to overtake another vehicle care must be taken.  This is particularly so near intersections.  Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver, Registry, addressing fault for a collision arising in such circumstances.
In yesterday’s case (Johel v. ICBC) the Plaintiff stopped at a stop sign.  She intended to make a left hand turn.  The vehicle approaching from her left was slowing and signalling intending to make a right hand turn.  The Plaintiff felt it was safe to proceed with her turn and entered the intersection.  At the same time the Defendant’s vehicle chose to pass the third party by entering the on-coming lane of travel.  A collision occurred.

(Accident Reconstruction Software courtesy of SmartDraw)
The Defendant fled leaving the Plaintiff with the remedy of suing ICBC under section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.  Ultimately Mr. Justice Bernard found the unidentified vehicle fully at fault for the crash.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons for judgement:

[13] In the circumstances of the case at bar, the obligations of the plaintiff under the Act are found in ss. 165(2), 186, and 175(1).

[14] Section 165(2) applies to drivers making left turns at intersections where traffic is permitted to move in both directions on each highway entering the intersection. The provision sets out the obligations of a driver in such a situation. Section 186 obliges a driver approaching a stop sign to stop at the marked stop line. There is no evidence or suggestion that Ms Johel failed to comply with these rules of the road.

[15] Section 175(1) sets forth the obligations of a driver entering a through highway from a stop sign. The defendants say the plaintiff failed to yield, as required by this provision. Section 175(1) reads as follows:

175(1). If a vehicle that is about to enter a through highway has stopped in compliance with section 186,

(a) the driver of the vehicle must yield the right of way to traffic that has entered the intersection on the through highway or is approaching so closely on it that it constitutes an immediate hazard, and

(b) having yielded, the driver may proceed with caution.

[16] The statutory obligations of the defendants are found in ss. 155(1)(c), 157(1), 159, 160, and 175(2) of the Act.

[17] Section 155(1)(c) obliges a driver to drive to the right of a single line, broken or solid, except only when passing an overtaken vehicle. There is no evidence or suggestion that the defendant driver drove to the left of the solid yellow line except for the purpose of overtaking Mr. Lam.

[18] Section 157(1) sets forth the obligations of the overtaking vehicle vis-à-vis the overtaken vehicle. There is, again, no evidence or suggestion that the defendant driver did not comply with this rule.

[19] Sections 159 and 160 set forth the obligations of drivers passing on the left. They state as follows:

159. A driver of a vehicle must not drive to the left side of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle unless the driver can do so in safety.

160. A driver of a vehicle must not drive to or on the left side of the roadway, other than on a one way highway, unless the driver has a clear view of the roadway for a safe distance, having regard for all the circumstances.

[20] Section 175(2) obliges a driver on a through highway to yield to a vehicle which has entered the highway in compliance with s. 175(1). The plaintiff says the defendant driver of the white car failed to yield, as required by this provision. Section 175(2) states as follows:

175(2). If a vehicle is entering a through highway in compliance with subsection (1), traffic approaching the intersection on the highway must yield the right of way to the entering vehicle while it is proceeding into or across the highway….

[29] Having regard to all the evidence and the positions of the parties, I find: (a) that Ms Johel was attentive and observant while stopped at the stop sign; (b) that Ms Johel proceeded with caution into the intersection and, at the time, the only traffic in her view was the car of Mr. Lam; (c) that the defendants’ white car was, at the time, to the left of Mr. Lam and, thus, hidden from Ms Johel’s view; and, (d) that at the time of collision, the white car was straddling the centre line and Ms Johel’s car was crossing it and heading slightly eastward.

[39] Having regard to all the foregoing, I conclude: (a) that when the defendant driver overtook Mr. Lam he or she did so in breach of ss. 159 and 160 of the Act; (b) that the defendant driver failed to meet the requisite standard of care; and (c) that the defendants are solely at fault for the collision.

Plaintiff At Fault in Fatal Tractor Trailer Collision for Running Stop Sign

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with the issue of fault following a two vehicle collision.
In last week’s case (Rackstraw v. Robertson) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision with a tractor trailer.  The tractor trailer was travelling Northbound on Mount Lehman Road.  The Plaintiff was travelling eastbound on Sunset Crescent which forms a T-intersection with Mount Lehman Road.

The Defendant “decided to pass a northbound vehicle ahead of him”.   To do so he accelerated above the speed limit and had to travel in the southbound lane.  As he did so he saw the Plaintiff approach the intersection and run the stop sign which was facing him on Sunset Crescent.  The vehicles collided and the Plaintiff died shortly after.
Ultimately the Plaintiff was found fully at fault for the collision.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice Fisher provided the following reasons:
[25] Mr. Rackstraw owed a duty of care to other drivers travelling on Mount Lehman Road, in particular Mr. Robertson.  He breached that duty by failing to stop at the stop sign, failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to yield to the Robertson vehicle when he entered the roadway on Mount Lehman Road.  Mr. Rackstraw was the servient driver at all times…
[32] …. the fact that Robertson was travelling over the speed limit will only constitute negligence if his speed is what prevented him from taking reasonable evasive action: see Cooper v. Garrett, 2009 BCSC 35 at para. 42.  In my view, there is no evidence which establishes that Robertson’s speed prevented him from doing so. His truck was just about at the intersection when he first saw Rackstraw’s vehicle, and only his trailer, or part of it, was still in the southbound lane when the impact occurred…
[37]it is my opinion that the accident in the case at bar was caused solely by the failure of Mr. Rackstraw to stop at the stop sign, to keep a proper lookout and to yield to the Robertson vehicle when he entered the roadway on Mount Lehman Road.  When Robertson started his pass, there was no reason for him to believe that he could not do so safely or that he would interfere with the travel of another vehicle.  As in Ferguson, he was engaged in a lawful manoeuvre.  He did not see, and could not reasonably have seen, the Rackstraw vehicle until he was just about at the intersection and he had no reasonable opportunity to avoid the collision.

$55,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, addressing quantum and liability following a motorcycle accident.
In this week’s case (Langley v. Heppner) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2003 BC collision.  The Plaintiff was operating a motorcycle and was following a vehicle operated by the Defendant.  Both vehicles were behind a slow moving van.  As the motorists approached a straight stretch of road both the Plaintiff and Defendant attempted to pass the van in the on-coming traffic lane.  They did so at almost the same time resulting in a violent crash catapulting the Plaintiff about 60 feet.
Mr. Justice Barrow held that both motorists were at fault with the Defendant bearing 80% of the blame.   Paragraphs 11-37 of the reasons for judgement are worth reviewing for the Courts discussion of liability.
The Plaintiff suffered various injuries.  Most of these went on to heal however he was left with persistent neck and shoulder pain.  Ultimately he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.  The limitations related to this were expected to continue to improve however there was a likelihood of long standing symptoms.  Mr. Justice Barrow assessed the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) at $55,000.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
[43] Turning to Mr. Langley’s injuries more generally, he suffered a number of bruises and abrasions which resolved unremarkably. His low back was sore, and although it remained sore and painful for a considerable time following the accident, it was asymptomatic by the time of the trial (six years post-accident). His most significant and persistent injury is to his right shoulder and the right side of his neck…
[51] I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the plaintiff has thoracic outlet syndrome and that it is a result of the motor vehicle accident…
[58] Mr. Langley’s right shoulder and right neck pain are the most significant consequence of the accident. I accept that he is always in some degree of discomfort in these areas. His level of discomfort increases when he becomes fatigued, but it is most seriously aggravated when he does any activity that involves lifting his right arm to or above shoulder level…
I am satisfied that Mr. Langley’s functional abilities will improve in some respects, although not to a significant degree…
[81] In view of all of the foregoing, an appropriate award for non?pecuniary damages is $55,000.

Cyclist Found Fully At Fault For Collision With Vehicle


Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing the issue of fault following a serious collision between a cyclist and a vehicle.
In today’s case (Ireland v. McKnight) the Plaintiff was a doctor who was involved in a “career-ending road traffic incident” in 2007.   The Plaintiff was travelling southbound on his bicycle on Henderson Road.  At the same time the Defendant passed the Plaintiff in the same direction of travel.  At this time a collision between the bicycle and vehicle occurred.
The Court heard competing theories about how the collision occurred but ultimately found that the Plaintiff drove into the vehicle and was fully responsible for the crash.  In dismissing the lawsuit Mr. Justice Wilson provided the following reasons:

[22]         I find the defendants’ theory of how contact occurred to be the more plausible.

[23]         I find the front wheel of the bike contacted the right rear quarter panel of the car, behind the right rear wheel well.

[24]         If, as the plaintiff argues, the car was on a collision course with the bike, or failed to adjust sufficiently to avoid a collision course, then I find that the right front corner of the car would have struck the bike.  The evidence does not support such a finding.

[25]         I conclude that the plaintiff moved the bike to the left, concurrently with the turn of head in that direction.  But for the plaintiff moving the bike, there would have been no contact between the bike and the car.

[26]         I find the defendant driver passed the bike at a safe distance, and, on the evidence, that at least three-quarters of the car length had passed the bike before contact occurred.

[27]         In result, I find the defendant driver not liable for the incident.  It follows that the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant driver, pursuant to s. 86 of the Motor Vehicle Act, fails.

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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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