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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.

bc injury law, Culos v. Chretien, Mr. Justice Rogers, pedestrian accidents