15 Sep Pedestrian Collisions

Faircrest v. Buchanan,  2015 BCSC 657, is an unusual case involving the collision of two pedestrians.  In this case, Ms. Faircrest was injured while volunteering at Connolly Lodge, a mental health facility.  During her volunteer shift, a patient became increasingly agitated.  The patient was known to become violent.  Ms. Faircrest watched the patient walk by and turn towards her room.  She was still watching the patient when a nurse unintentionally bumped into her.  The nurse had left the nursing station and briskly walked toward the patient.  While heading towards the patient, she watched the patient and did not see Ms. Faircrest.  Neither the nurse nor Ms. Faircrest saw each other before the nurse bumped into Ms. Faircrest.  Ms. Faircrest fell and suffered a fractured her hip and other soft tissue injuries.

In determining whether the nurse was negligent, the court considered the law:

[61]         … The standard of care in the case of collisions between pedestrians was described in this way by Dhillon J. in Mills v. Moberg (1996), 27 B.C.L.R. (3d) 277 (S.C.) at para. 6:

The duty of pedestrians to one another is to act as an ordinary person would in the circumstances, using the degree of care and vigilance which the circumstances and the interests of others using the walkway demand.

[62]         In that case, Dhillon J. found a delivery driver liable in negligence for having knocked over another pedestrian as he walked around the corner of his truck in a mall parking lot, causing the 76-year-old plaintiff to fall and break her hip. She wrote at para. 6:

In this case, the defendant, Moberg, failed to consider the possibility of other pedestrians in the parking lot despite the configuration of the lot which necessitated pedestrians to cross the lot to reach the shops. Given the proximity of the mall to long term care and rehabilitation facilities and given Moberg’s regular presence at the mall, Moberg should have been alert to the presence of pedestrians including disabled persons in the vicinity. He did not look to his right as he quickly rounded the rear of his delivery van to reach the driver’s door. His failure to look for other pedestrians was the cause of the collision.

The Court noted that the nurse had a duty to react quickly to the patient disturbance.  However, she still had to be attentive to others who might be in her path.  However, Ms. Faircrest also had a duty to be attentive to the fact that staff would have to respond quickly to the situation that arose with the patient and not block the path.

As a result, the Court apportioned liability.  The nurse’s employer was 60% vicariously liable and Ms. Faircrest was 40% liable.

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