Wide Left Turn Leads to Contributory Negligence Finding
(Update March 25, 2015 – an appeal from the below liability finding was dismissed)
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, discussing fault for a crash involving a wide left hand turning vehicle.
In this week’s case (Le v. Point) the Plaintiff was operating a scooter and passed a vehicle which was stopped ahead of him waiting to turn left. The Plaintiff passed on the right hand side of the vehicle. At the same time the Defendant, coming from the opposite direction, was attempting a left hand turn through the intersection. The Defendant almost cleared the intersection when the Plaintiff clipped the rear of the vehicle.
The Court found the Defendant was established in the intersection and was the dominant vehicle with the Plaintiff failing to keep a proper lookout. Despite this the Defenant was found partially at fault because she was turning wide into the curb lane.
In finding the Defendant 30% at fault Madam Justice Russell provided the following reasons:
 I find that Mr. Le did not keep a proper lookout as he entered the intersection. If he had, he would have seen Ms. Dickson’s vehicle conducting a left turn. By the time he entered the intersection, Ms. Dickson’s vehicle was in the northeast corner of the intersection, which was directly in front of his line of vision.
 However, Ms. Dickson has admitted that she violated s. 165 of the Motor Vehicle Act by turning wide into the northbound curb lane of traffic on Arbutus rather than the lane of traffic closest to the centre line. While this in itself is not sufficient to establish that she breached her duty of care, if she had turned into the nearest northbound lane as required, it is likely she would have been clear of the intersection by the time that Mr. Le entered it and the collision may never have occurred. On this basis, I find Ms. Dickson was contributorily negligent in causing the collision despite the fact that she was the dominant driver.
 In closing arguments the plaintiff referred to several cases in which a left turning driver was held 100% liable for collisions: Andrews v. Mainster, 2012 BCSC 823, Clarke v. Stephan, 1993 CanLii 1554 (B.C.S.C.), Djukiv v. Hahn, 2006 BCSC 154, Tait v. Dumansky, 2012 BCSC 332, Pasemko v. Van Varner, 1994 CanLii 1043 (B.C.S.C.). These cases are not of assistance to the Court in deciding the issues at hand. In all of these cases it was found that the left turning driver failed to observe traffic which constituted an immediate hazard and breached an obligation to yield the right-of-way. Since I have found that Mr. Le was not an immediate hazard and Ms. Dickson was the dominant driver, these cases are distinguishable on their facts.
 In the circumstances of this case, I apportion the fault for the 2010 Collision as 70% to Mr. Le and 30% to Ms. Dickson.