Is it common sense and the law in BC that a driver rear ending another quickly stopping vehicle is at fault for following too closely, unless there is evidence to the contrary.  The following personal injury case tried unsuccessfully to prove otherwise ( click here to review full case of Wright v. Mistry,2017 BCSC 239).
The claimant said he was stopped at a red light, facing east on Cordova St., behind another car and as the light changed his car was hit from behind. He argued that the rear-ending driver is clearly at fault for rear-ending him at a light in the middle of the day.
The rear ending driver claimed that he was driving behind the claimant as they both approached the intersection. When the light started to change the claimant applied his brakes but then quickly came to a stop. The defendant said that, because of this abrupt stop, he could not avoid hitting the claimant’s vehicle.
In Skinner v. Fu, 2010 BCCA 321, our Court of Appeal wrote that generally, fault lies with the following driver in a rear-end collision. The Court wrote:

[23]      This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the generally accepted rule that following drivers will usually be at fault for failing to avoid a collision with a vehicle that has stopped quickly in front (Ayers v. Singh (1997), 85 B.C.A.C. 307, [1997] B.C.J. No. 350). Normally a sudden stop does not create an unreasonable risk of harm.

It is open to a defendant, once the court has drawn an inference of liability based on the rear-end collision, to offer an explanation of how the accident could have come about without his negligence. In Fontaine, Mr. Justice Major applied the law relating to such inferences stating:

[38] Thus, in cases such as this, the trial judge may – but is not required to – draw an inference of negligence from the fact there was a rear-end collision. The defence, however, may attempt to rebut such inferences through the defence of explanation. A defence of explanation, as stated in Hackman v. Vecchio (1969), 4 D.L.R. (3d) 444 at 446 (B.C.C.A.) is an explanation of how an accident may have occurred without the defendant’s negligence. The defendant does not bear the onus of proving how the accident did happen. The trial judge drew an inference of negligence in this case. She said, “In this case, given that this was a rear-end collision in which the truck was properly stopped and was there to be seen, there is a prima facie case of negligence.”  Further, the trial judge correctly noted that Mrs. Morris “has to advance an explanation as to how the collision may have occurred without negligence on her part.”

The difficulty with the defendant’s position was that, even if accepted he would still be at fault. By his account, the light turned yellow as the vehicles approached the intersection. Section 128(1)(a) of the Motor Vehicle Act required all vehicles to stop at the intersection for the yellow light. The claimant’s braking would not have been unreasonable or unexpected.
Instead, even if his account is accepted, the judge could only conclude that the rear ending driver was either following too closely, or not paying attention as the parties approached the intersection. The rear ending driver was found 100% at fault.
The claimant was awarded over $200,00 for this rear end car accident injury. The award can be summarized as follows:

a)    Pain and Suffering: $110,000
b)    Loss of Past Earning Capacity: $80,000
c)     Special Damages: $1,274.20
d)    In-trust Award: $65,000
e)    Cost of Future Care and Loss of Housekeeping Capacity: $12,500
Total:  $268,774.20 

Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.- Mr. Holness has prosecuted countless ICBC rear end car accident claims for over 21 years, only representing the injury victim.

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