In today’s case the claimant is found 50% at fault for making a left hand turn, on a late yellow, causing the car accident which is the subject of this personal injury case. The assessment of damages was bifurcated from liability so this decision only addresses fault for the car accident. (Elima v. Dhaliwal,2017 BCSC 1922)
This left hand tun accident occurred at the intersection of Steveston Highway and Coppersmith Place. Steveston Highway runs in an east/west direction. Coppersmith Place is not a through street. Instead, it leads into a shopping mall called Ironwood Plaza and it can be accessed by either eastbound or westbound traffic from Steveston Highway. The traffic at this Intersection is often quite heavy with the result that turning left, off of Steveston Highway and onto Coppersmith Place, can be difficult.
The Supreme Court found that the traffic light was amber when the other straight driving vehicle reached the stop line before the intersection.
The judge set up the legal framework for assessing a left turn case. The first step in the liability analysis is the consideration of the evidence of the colour of the light.
Once the colour of the light has been determined the driver making a left-hand turn bears the onus of proving the absence of an immediate hazard at the moment before he or she begins to make that turn. Also The driver who approaches or faces a yellow light bears the onus of establishing that he or she was unable to stop safely.
The claimant was found partly at fault for turning left when there was an immediate hazard. The dominant straight driving defendant was found 50% at fault for failing to stop at the yellow light when it was unsafe to proceed through the intersection.
It is however well established that left turning drivers are entitled to rely on the assumption that other drivers will obey the rules of the road, absent any reasonable indication to the contrary. In particular, a left turning driver is not required to wait until he or she sees that all approaching drivers have stopped.
I am therefore somewhat confused at the 50% liability finding against the claimant as the other driver would not have been an immediate hazard if the assumption was made that it would follow the rules of the road and come to a stop.
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.