19 Mar Pedestrian Struck by Speeding Logging Truck

In the case of Peters v. Bird, 2020 BCSC 130, the Plaintiff was struck by a vehicle while walking along the highway in the early hours of the morning.  The driver left the scene without stopping to render assistance or reporting the incident. There were no independent witnesses to the collision and the Plaintiff, who was found semi-conscious and seriously injured on the roadway, had no recollection of it.  The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant Bird (“Bird”) was the driver.

The principal issues before the court were: (a) whether the Plaintiff had proved that Bird was the driver of the vehicle that struck her; (b) if Bird was the driver, whether the Plaintiff had proved that he was negligent; and, (c) to what extent was the Plaintiff contributorily negligent.

The police investigation to determine the identity of the driver went nowhere until a year later when Bird’s former girlfriend spoke to police.  She informed the police that Bird told her he had run over and killed a man as he was driving his logging truck. Proof of the identity of Bird as the driver and his negligence rested primarily on the girlfriend’s evidence.

Not only did the judge find Bird negligent, he also found that Bird had breached the duty of care he owed to the Plaintiff when he negotiated the turn in the dark at more than twice the speed limit and struck her as she sat at the side of the road.

The Plaintiff conceded she was intoxicated that night and left a party to walk home along the highway.  She submitted that she should be found 25% at fault. The Defendants asked that she be found 90% at fault. The judge noted that the Plaintiff was simply lying or sitting on the side of the road when she was struck by Bird.  She would not have been difficult to see in the headlights of an approaching driver.  In fact, Bird did see her but he was travelling too fast to avoid hitting her. The judge assessed the Plaintiff’s liability at 25%.