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When ICBC Wins on Liability

Will the other driver be found at all liable if I pass them on the left as they’re turning left?  What if I give evidence that they didn’t signal, and I didn’t know where they were going?

This week, the British Columbia Court of Appeal considered an ICBC liability case (Tabori v Renaud 2017 BCCA 2017).  The court upheld the decision of a trial judge, who had found a plaintiff motorcyclist 100% liable for the collision that formed the subject of his personal injury claim.

The motorcyclist, a Mr. Tabori, was injured when he tried to pass a left-turning vehicle at a T-intersection.  He argued that the defendant driver’s behaviour had made his intentions unclear (ie. that the driver had slowed to a stop in the middle of the intersection without signalling).  The trial judge noted that even if this evidence was accepted, it would have been the most reasonable for the plaintiff to have assumed that a car slowing to a stop in an intersection is intending to turn left.  Unhelpfully for both his safety and his case, the plaintiff happened to be impaired at the time of the collision.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, his appeal was dismissed:

[8]           With respect to liability she found Mr. Tabori 100% at fault saying this:

[47]      … Mr. Renaud had exercised the requisite standard of care one would expect in these circumstances. There should have been little uncertainty in Mr. Tabori’s mind as to Mr. Renaud’s expected course of action at the intersection given his slowing down and signalling to the left, but even if there was uncertainty in his mind, for example, failing to see the left turn signal, he should have erred on the side of caution and simply waited before passing in order to ensure it was safe to do so.

[48]      I find that Mr. Renaud slowed his vehicle as he approached the T-intersection, intending to turn left onto Barr Street. He checked his rear view mirror, saw the motorcycle behind him at a safe distance, turned on his left signal and commenced the turn. He then noticed Mr. Tabori’s face in his driver side mirror. He had no time to react. This is not a case where one failed to see what was there to be seen. I am satisfied that Mr. Renaud took all the necessary steps in the circumstances to ensure it was safe to proceed with the left turn.

[49]      I find that Mr. Tabori did not ensure that his passing could be completed in safety contrary to section 159 of the MVA. The left turn signal of the vehicle in front of him was activated and the vehicle had slowed down. Regardless of whether he saw the left turn signal or not, the vehicle had slowed down as it approached the T-intersection where it was reasonable to assume the vehicle was intending to turn left. Mr. Tabori failed to sound his horn to alert Mr. Renaud that he was passing on the left. Mr. Tabori was impaired and that impairment affected his reaction time and his ability to assess the immediate risk. He took an ill-advised risk. All of these factors lead me to conclude that Mr. Tabori failed to exercise the requisite standard of care.

[Emphasis added.]

[9]           Counsel has said all that could be said in arguing this appeal, however, in my view, the case turned on the evidence, and the judge’s interpretation of the evidence as a whole has not been shown to be in error.