In this unusual car accident case the claimant was driving west on Marine Way in Burnaby approaching Byrne Road when a vehicle driving east lost control of his car, went over the median and collided with the claimant’s vehicle. Another vehicle was travelling west on Marine Way behind the claimant and rear-ended the claimant’s vehicle.
The claims engage the principle of whether inferences of negligence should be drawn, and if so, whether the inferences have been negated. Judge Matthews provided a description of the legal principle of the inference of negligence:

[8] In Fontaine v. British Columbia (Official Administrator), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 424 at paras. 23-24, the Supreme Court of Canada revised the law previously known as the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that in negligence cases, the burden is always with the plaintiff to prove negligence. In certain cases, the court may draw an inference of negligence from all of the evidence both circumstantial and direct. If the inference is drawn and the defendant does not provide a non-negligent explanation, the plaintiff is successful. If the inference is not drawn, or if the defendant provides a non-negligent explanation, the plaintiff must prove negligence in the normal way.(Dorsett v. Sahib,2018 BCSC 1884)

The judge found the driver that crossed the centre line into oncoming traffic 100% negligent for the car accident. The driver’s excuse of having to swerve to avoid another vehicle was not accepted by the court. The other driver had made an ICBC statement that was inconsistent with his statement to the police.

The claimant also argued that the rear-ending driver was at fault as the driver was not able to avoid colliding with the back of her vehicle. The Supreme Court of BC has explained that a trial judge may, but is not required to, draw an inference of negligence from the fact that there was a rear-end collision.

The driver that rear ended the claimant was found not to be at fault as there was no time to fully stop, and no time for her to avoid the accident. There was no evidence of excessive speed and the judge accepted the evidence that the rear ending vehicle braked and swerved in the split second reacting reasonably as she could to the unexpected event.
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.