12 Nov Liability of Slow Moving Vehicle in Multi-Vehicle Highway Collision

Sometimes it’s obvious who is at fault in a collision and sometimes it’s not.  In Borgjford v. Thue, 2015 BCSC 1917, the Court assessed liability in a multi-vehicle collision.  The collision occurred on a multi-lane section of the Coquihalla Highway.  The injured Plaintiffs were passengers in Mr. Thue’s vehicle.  The Plaintiffs sued Mr. Thue and the driver of another vehicle, Ms. Boizard.  They argued that Ms. Boizard was also at fault because she changed lanes in a manner that blocked or impeded Mr. Thue’s use of that passing lane.  This forced Mr. Thue to take evasive action and resulted in the collision.

In assessing Mr. Thue’s liability, the Court referred to the testimony of the other drivers, responding police officers and engineers.  The Court also looked at data downloaded from Mr. Thue’s vehicle.  The data revealed that Mr. Thue was travelling 125 – 128 km/hour seconds before the collision and that he did not apply his brakes.  The Court found he “totally misjudged” the rate he was approaching the vehicles in front of him, including Ms. Boizard’s vehicle.

In assessing Ms. Boizard’s liablity, the Court noted that she was a “timid” driver.  She was travelling 85 km/hour in the passing lane when the collision occurred.  The Court found that she could have driven faster to overtake the other slow vehicle more quickly.  Instead, she “chose to drive at a relatively leisurely pace” and that was negligent.  The Court found that if she had accelerated to a reasonable speed to overtake the other vehicle, she would have blocked the passing lane for a shorter time and gotten ahead of that vehicle before Mr. Thue’s vehicle came upon her.  In other words, for the collision to have occurred in the manner it did, it was necessary for Ms. Boizard to have blocked the passing lane.

In finishing its analysis, the Court had to assess the relative fault of Mr. Thue and Ms. Boizard.  The Court considered Ms. Boizard’s negligence a minor factor compared to Mr. Thue’s.  The Court assessed Ms. Boizard 10% negligent and Mr. Thue 90% negligent.

Proving a case like Borgiford v. Thue can be complicated and expensive.  At Acheson Whitley Sweeney Foley, we have both the expertise to know which engineers and other experts to hire, and the financial ability to hire them.