The train conductor was negligent for colliding with a van because he failed to notice that the signal lights had not been flashing before the train entered the crossing. The claimant was seriously injured in the accident and had no memory of the events. The claimant pleaded guilty to a charge under s. 144 of the Motor Vehicle Act, for driving without due care and attention, for which he received a $1,500 fine.
However, the Court of Appeal has upheld the Supreme Court finding of 100% fault against the train conductor.(Chand v. Southern Railway of British Columbia Limited,2018 BCCA 41)
The claimant he could not offer a full and robust defence. In addition, the fine was quite minor, with the stakes of this subsequent proceeding being much higher. Therefore the claimant’s guilty plea did not constitute proof that he was driving without due care or attention.

The accident occurred in Surrey, British Columbia where the railway crosses Scott Road. The claimant was driving northbound on Scott Road at about 10 p.m. when he collided with the left front wheels of the lead engine of a westbound train. Following a nine-day liability only trial, the judge found that neither the bells nor signal lights on the south side of the Scott Road crossing were functioning at the time of the collision. In the circumstances the train conductor had a duty to stop the train and manually guide it through the crossing.

The trial judge summarized the law well as it relates the legal test of negligence in train cases:

[43] Recently, in Agar v. Weber, 2014 BCCA 297, the British Columbia Court of Appeal outlined the elements of negligence as follows at para. 29:

In negligence, the common law requires a plaintiff to establish:

1.         a duty of care to conform to a certain standard of care for the protection of others against unreasonable risks. The duty does not extend to the removal of every possible danger, rather the test is one of reasonableness: Ryan v. Victoria (City), [1999] 1 S.C.R. 201 at para. 28;

2.         a breach of that duty by some act or omission by the defendant; and

3.         the breach of duty is the proximate cause of a plaintiff’s injury, meaning there must be a nexus between the injury sustained by the plaintiff and the defendant’s negligent act or omission: see Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada Ltd., 2008 SCC 27; Hussack v. Chilliwack School District No. 33, 2011 BCCA 258 at para. 54.

[44]  In other words, the elements of negligence are (1) duty of care; (2) standard of care; and (3) causation. I have followed this structure in my reasons.

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