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Injury Claimant’s Failure to use Hazard Light Results in 60% Fault

rear-ended after being rear-ended!

This was  an appeal from a personal injury case apportioning 60% of the liability for a motor vehicle accident to the injury claimant. The car accident occurred on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway between Vancouver and North Vancouver (Langille v. Marchant, 2014 BCCA 430).

The claimant rear-ended a vehicle  after passing the crest on the bridge, on the downslope toward North Vancouver. The other vehicle was at a full stop or slowing down when she hit it. After the impact, she stopped her vehicle, turned it off and got out of the car to speak with  the other driver. She left only her running lights on when she did so.  Another vehcile then came over the crest of the bridge and did not see the claimant’s vehicle in front of her until it was too late to take evasive action. She rear-ended the claimant’s vehicle causing it to be propelled forward, spinning around and  causing significant injuries to the claimant.

Failure to Activate Emergency Flashers

Activating emergency flashers is a step the claimant failed to do and, according to the Court of Appeal, it was open to the trial judge to find the claimant negligent on that basis. It was also open to the trial judge to find that using her flashers would have reduced the severity of the impact.  The activation of flashers would have made the claimant’s car more visible and made it harder for the defendant to fail to notice the vehicle and to take earlier evasive measures.

Apportionment of liability or Fault for the Car Accident

As the Court of Appeal pointed out,

[23] When she weighed the parties’ relative degrees of blameworthiness the trial judge was clearly of the view that the plaintiff’s conduct in failing to protect herself and other drivers after the first collision was more blameworthy than the defendant’s conduct. The trial judge found the defendant to have been momentarily inattentive in the face of an imminent, and relatively difficult to discern, peril. The plaintiff, on the other hand, attended to inspection of damage and attempted to exchange information with Mr. Masahiro before taking a simple step to protect herself and others. The trial judge properly treated the failure to illuminate flashers and move the vehicle collectively as “the central allegation” made against the plaintiff. In my view, this central complaint, that the plaintiff failed to take any step to reduce the risk to drivers approaching what the trial judge found to be an unexpected hazard, remains, even if the plaintiff’s failure to move her vehicle is not blameworthy.

The appeal was therefore dismissed.

Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.

ISSUE: It is fair to expect a person that was just rear-ended to activate her flashers?

 

Tags: At Fault, Hazard Lights, Legal Causation, liability, Negligence, Section 4 of the Negligence Act

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