Defendant 75% At Fault After U-Turn Results In Collision

In Stanikzai v. Bola, the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident after rear-ending the Defendant’s vehicle. The Plaintiff suffered injuries, and brought an ICBC claim against the Defendant. The court heard conflicting versions from the Plaintiff and the Defendant as to how the accident transpired, and ultimately accepted the testimony of an independent witness, who stated that the Defendant quickly moved into the Plaintiff’s lane as the Defendant was attempting to make a U-turn in front of the Plaintiff’s vehicleAlthough it is usually the case in the event of a rear-end accident that the party, in this case the Plaintiff, that causes the rear-end collision is at fault, in the circumstances of this case, the Court held the Defendant to be 75% responsible for the collision.


[6]             The only independent witness called was Mr. Tiwana, a truck driver who was behind the plaintiff in the left lane. Like the plaintiff, he described the defendant’s van moving into the right lane, then quickly attempting a u-turn in front of the plaintiff’s vehicle, leaving the plaintiff no time to react. However, one significant difference between the plaintiff’s evidence and that of Mr. Tiwana is that Mr. Tiwana said he saw the left turn signal on the defendant’s vehicle before what he described as the attempted u-turn.


[7]             There is no doubt that when one vehicle hits another from behind, the onus is on the driver of the rear vehicle to show that the collision was not caused by his or her fault: Barrie v Marshall, 2010 BCSC 981. A driver following other vehicles is expected to keep his vehicle under sufficient control to be able to deal with sudden stopping or slowing of the vehicle in front: Pryndik v. Manju, 2001 BCSC 502.


[8]             But while liability for a rear end collision usually rests entirely with the following driver, that is not an invariable result. For example, in Saffari v Lopez, 2009 BCSC 699, both drivers were found to be equally at fault for a rear end collision. In that case, the front driver stopped or slowed suddenly, ostensibly to retrieve a fallen cigarette, but the court found that the rear driver was travelling either too fast or too close behind to stop when confronted with the hazard.


[9]             The plaintiff and the defendant in this case give conflicting evidence that cannot be reconciled. In attempting to determine what happened, on the balance of probabilities, I prefer the evidence of the only independent witness, Mr. Tiwana. He describes the defendant moving suddenly into the plaintiff’s lane in circumstances where the plaintiff did not have time to stop. That is not consistent with the defendant’s evidence of the lapse of time between her lane change and the collision and I do not accept her evidence on that point. I do accept her evidence that she had no reason to be making a u-turn and was not attempting one, but I find that her turn to the left on impact likely created the mistaken impression of a u-turn.

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