29 Jul Be Alert When Using A Crosswalk

At one time or another, you may have stepped into a crosswalk without looking or considering the risk, confident that you have the right of way. As a pedestrian, you do have the right of way when using a crosswalk and vehicles must yield to you.  However, inattention and neglect for your own safety may mean that you share some fault if you are struck by a motor vehicle.

The case of Olson v. Farran, 2016 BCSC 1255, demonstrates the importance of keeping a lookout when crossing a street, even at a crosswalk.  In this case, the Plaintiff was walking to work one morning when she approached the crosswalk at Jervis Street in Vancouver. According to the findings of the Court, the Plaintiff was talking on the phone with her mother and stopped at the crosswalk for 30 seconds or so to wait for traffic to clear. The Plaintiff observed the Defendant’s vehicle going through a nearby round-about but she was unable to gauge the Defendant’s speed before she stepped into the crosswalk. The Plaintiff was struck by the Defendant’s vehicle. The impact threw the Plaintiff onto the hood before she fell to the pavement. As a result of the impact the Plaintiff sustained injuries to her lower back, hip and pelvis.

The main issue at trial was: Who bore responsibility for the accident?

The British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act states that a driver must yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The Court held that, in these circumstances, the Defendant driver had an obligation to yield to the Plaintiff in the crosswalk. The Defendant’s failure to see the Plaintiff meant that the Defendant bore the majority of the fault for the accident.

However, the Court noted that there is more to assessing fault that just determining who had the right of way. There is a legal duty on all persons using the highway to exercise due care for their own safety. The Court held that the Plaintiff was contributorily negligent in entering the crosswalk without first checking to determine whether the Defendant’s vehicle presented a risk to her own safety. The Court found it probable that the Plaintiff was distracted by her telephone conversation with her mother when she entered the crosswalk and that she was unaware of the Defendant’s vehicle until the moment before it struck her.

Liability was apportioned 75% to the Defendant driver and 25% to the Plaintiff pedestrian.

The lawyers at Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota have extensive experience representing pedestrians hit by motor vehicles.  Contact us for a free consultation.