16 Sep Accidents Involving Emergency Vehicles
In the case of Maddex v. Sigouin, 2014 BCCA 213, the Plaintiff was a police officer struck by the Defendant when the Defendant attempted to pass the police vehicle on the left in a lane dedicated to left turning vehicles. The police vehicle was attempting to execute a U-turn maneuver in order to pull over a vehicle that was speeding in the other direction.
At trial the police officer and the Defendant were held equally liable for the accident. The Plaintiff police office appealed.
The Court of Appeal found that the trial judge applied the wrong standard of care in deciding that the parties were equally liable for the accident. The Court of Appeal overturned the trial decision and found the Defendant 100% liable for the accident. The Court of Appeal held that, pursuant to the Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation, the police officer was not required to have his siren on while executing his U-turn as he was not yet in “pursuit” of the offending vehicle, per the definition of “pursuit” in the Regulation.
Under s. 4(2) of the Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation, where a police officer operating an emergency vehicle for purposes other than a pursuit reasonably believes the risk to the public favours exercising s. 122(1) privileges, such privileges may be exercised by operating an emergency light without a siren under s. 4(2)(b) if the officer is engaged in the lawful execution of duty and reasonably believes it is safe to do so.
In reconsidering the question of liability with reference to the appropriate standard of care (that of a reasonable police officer responding to an emergency on very short notice), the officer was entitled to depart from the rules of the road set out in the Motor Vehicle Act.
The Court of Appeal found that liability rested entirely with the Defendant.