15 May What happens if a vehicle hits me while I am in the crosswalk?

The Motor Vehicle Act of British Columbia governs the duties of pedestrians and motorists in a crosswalk controlled by flashing yellow lights that is not at an intersection.

Section 131 (4) states:

When rapid intermittent flashes of yellow light are exhibited at a place other than an intersection by a traffic control signal,

(a) the driver of a vehicle approaching the signal may cause the vehicle to pass the signal only with caution, and must yield the right of way to pedestrians in the roadway or on any crosswalk in the vicinity of the signal, and

(b) a pedestrian may proceed across the roadway with caution.

Section 179 also states:

(2) A pedestrian must not leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close it is impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way.

Drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians in a marked crosswalk.  At the same time, pedestrians have to ensure it is safe before they step off the curb.  The Court will look at the facts of each case and make a decision based on those facts. 

In Kaiser v. Williams, 2015 BCSC 646, the Court found the Plaintiff pedestrian had the right of way because she had activated the flashing yellow lights.  However, the Court found she should have looked left again before stepping of the curb.  Had she done so, she would have seen the Defendant was not stopping as she had expected and he was close enough to hit her when she entered the crosswalk.   The judge summarized that the Plaintiff  “would have seen that she was “leav[ing] a curb or other place of safety and walk[ing] or run[ning] into the path of a vehicle that [was] so close it [was] impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way”.”

The Court then had to determine how much fault to attribute to each party.  The Court noted (1) the crosswalk was well marked, (2) it was a bright sunny day and the Plaintiff should have been visible to the Defendant before she reached the crosswalk, (3) an oncoming vehicle stopped to allow the Plaintiff to cross, and (4) the Plaintiff was wearing brightly colored clothing.  However, the Plaintiff had looked left only once, had seen the Defendant approaching and mistakenly assumed he was slowing down.  She looked right and waved at the other vehicle that had stopped but she did not look left again before stepping off the curb.  Considering all the circumstances, the Court found the Defendant 85% liable and the Plaintiff 15% liable. 

The Court awarded damages to the Plaintiff in the amount of $759,972.07 (or $645,976.26 after a deduction for liability).

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