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Importance of Consistent Evidence

How can inconsistent evidence impact a court’s decision?

In the recent personal injury case of Traux v. Hryb (2017 BCSC 1052), the plaintiff was travelling on the highway in his tractor on a night with heavy rain and was approaching a pull-out area where he often parked his tractor. The entrance to the pull-out area was tight and required the plaintiff to make a wide left turn across the highway. Prudently, prior to making the turn, the plaintiff pulled over to the right-hand shoulder and allowed the vehicles immediately behind him pass.

According to the plaintiff’s affidavit evidence, after the vehicles behind him passed, the plaintiff activated his left turn signal and proceeded with his turn across the highway. As the front end of the tractor crossed the center line of the highway, the defendant, who was travelling further back than the other vehicles, collided with the front left fender of the tractor.

Following the collision, the plaintiff initiated a lawsuit against the defendant and claimed that he was at fault for the collision. The defendant contested liability, and the parties sought to have the issue of liability determined at summary trial separate from damages. After determining the issue of liability to be suitable for summary trial, Mr. Justice Dley questioned the reliability of the defendant’s evidence, pointing out numerous inconsistencies. As a result of those inconsistencies, Mr. Justice Dley found the defendant entirely at fault for the collision:

[30]         Additionally, I have concerns about the reliability of Mr. Hryb’s evidence. He was wrong with respect to the location of the collision. He did not know if his windshield wipers were on, despite the fact that it was raining heavily. He did not know what the speed limit was and he did not know the nature of the highway dividing line.

[31]         Mr. Hryb’s evidence was inconsistent with respect to the matter of the Truax vehicle’s signal lights being on. He told the investigating office that he was not sure the lights were on, yet his affidavit for this application states that the lights were on.

[32]         Looking at the entirety of the evidence, I cannot accept Mr. Hryb’s evidence to be reliable. There are too many mistakes, unknowns and inconsistences.

[33]         I conclude that Mr. Truax commenced his turn when it was safe to do so. If Mr. Hryb had been paying attention, it would have been obvious that there was a vehicle ahead of him in his lane of travel. As the following vehicle it was incumbent upon Mr. Hryb to drive at a speed and in a manner that would give him time to avoid a collision. He failed to do so.

[34]         Mr. Hryb had at least 300 metres to see that there was a vehicle moving into the travelled portion of the highway. I infer that if Mr. Hryb was paying proper attention to the traffic in front of him, he would have been able to avoid the collision.

[35]         Mr. Truax did nothing wrong. The cause of the collision rests entirely with Mr. Hryb.