23 Nov Rear-end Accidents
The case of Bingul v. Youngson, 2016 BCSC 1868, is one of the few exceptions to the general rule that the driver following another vehicle is responsible when a rear-end collision occurs.
In this case, the Plaintiff, Mr. Bingul, alleged that he was stopped at a red light for several minutes with the Defendant’s truck stopped behind him, and that as the light switched to green the Defendant’s trucked rear ended him before he had begun to move forward.
The Defendant, Mr. Youngson, alleged that the accident was entirely the Plaintiff’s fault. The Defendant stated that he had been approaching the red light at the intersection when the Plaintiff made a sudden lane change in front of him and stopped at the red light. This sudden and unexpected movement did not leave enough space for him to stop, and he rear-ended the Defendant.
The Court found that the Plaintiff was not credible and had made inconsistent statements to the Court and insurance adjusters. The Defendant’s version of event was corroborated by his employer who was following him to the same worksite. The employer testified that he saw a vehicle move in front of the Defendant immediately before the collision occurred.
In his judgement Mr. Justice Gaul noted that when one vehicle hits another vehicle from behind, the onus is on the driver of the rear vehicle to show that the collision was not caused by his or her fault. While liability for a rear end collision will usually rest with a following driver, this is not always the case.
In finding the Plaintiff at fault for the collision, the Judge stated that while the BC Motor Vehicle Act states that a driver must not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable, it also states that a driver must not change lanes unless they have ascertained that the move can be made in safety and will in no way affect the travel of another vehicle.
The Court held that the sudden and unexpected lane change by the Plaintiff negated the prima facie assumption of liability on the Defendant and that the accident was entirely the result of the Plaintiff’s negligent lane change.