12 Jul Liability When Turning Left

In the case of Schlachter v. Foster, 2017 BCSC 300, the only issue to be determined was who was responsible for causing the accident. The Plaintiff was driving through an intersection just after the light turned yellow when he hit the Defendant, who turned left directly in front of him.


The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff had entered the intersection after the light turned red and was obliged to yield to him as he made his left turn.  However, independent witnesses to the accident testified that the traffic light was yellow when the Plaintiff entered the intersection and it was still yellow when the collision occurred.


At trial, the Plaintiff called a collision expert who calculated that when the Plaintiff entered the intersection the light had not yet turned red. This contradicted the testimony of the Defendant.

The Defendant had also told an ICBC adjuster after the accident that he had not noticed that the Plaintiff’s vehicle was still moving through the intersection when he made his turn.

According to the Motor Vehicle Act, a left-turning driver must yield to oncoming traffic, unless that traffic is not an immediate hazard.

The Court held that the Defendant’s assessment of how the accident occurred was not credible and that the most likely version of events was that the Plaintiff entered the intersection on a yellow light.  This meant that the Plaintiff was an ‘immediate hazard’ and any vehicle making a left hand turn would be obliged to yield to him.  Since the Defendant had failed to keep a proper lookout or observe the Plaintiff’s vehicle coming through the intersection, the Defendant was negligent and 100% responsible for the accident.