22 Aug Self-Represented Cyclist Loses Claims

Sometimes Plaintiffs decide not to hire a lawyer and instead represent themselves in their personal injury cases.  In the case of Jurisevic v. Rideout, 2013 BCSC 823, the Plaintiff had been in 12 road accidents between 1996 and 2012.  In the first three of these accidents he was driving a car. In the following nine accidents he was riding a bicycle.

A trial was held with respect to three of the nine cycling accidents, and the Plaintiff represented himself.  The Plaintiff claimed that the injuries he received in each of these three accidents caused him to become permanently disabled, for which he was seeking compensation.

Liability was not admitted. Counsel for the Defendants asked that accidents #1 and #3 be dismissed because they were caused by the Plaintiff’s own negligence. They asked that accident #2 be dismissed against ICBC due to the failure of the Plaintiff to make reasonable efforts to find the driver of the vehicle that he says hit him.

Throughout the trial, the Court found that the Plaintiff was not a credible witness. His often contradicted himself. In addition, his evidence at trial was inconsistent with the statements made by him at his two examinations for discovery, to ICBC and to his health care professionals.

Accident #1:  The Plaintiff was travelling on his bicycle behind traffic in the curb lane. The Plaintiff was travelling faster than the motor vehicles in that lane and passing to the right of them along the curb. At some point, he jumped onto the sidewalk to continue passing the slow, congested traffic on his left. The Plaintiff saw the Defendant driver start to turn right into the parking lot and shouted at her, but he was going too fast on the sidewalk to avoid a collision.

The Court pointed out that the Motor Vehicle Act imposes the same rights and duties on a cyclist as on a driver of a motor vehicle. One of those duties is not to ride on a sidewalk. Another duty is not to overtake and pass on the right of a vehicle, and in particular not to do so by driving off the roadway.  The Plaintiff’s conduct in riding on the sidewalk to bypass the traffic to his right was unlawful. The Defendant driver, on the other hand, was lawfully negotiating a right-hand turn into the driveway of the parking lot.

The Court noted that the lawfulness or lack thereof of each party’s conduct was important. As long as the Defendant driver exercised the care required of a driver in those circumstances, she was not under a duty to ensure that a cyclist was not unlawfully and negligently trying to pass her to her right on the sidewalk.

Given that the Plaintiff was riding quickly on the sidewalk, he had a heightened duty to take reasonable care for his own safety. The Court found that he did not do so.  The Court concluded that the Plaintiff’s negligent conduct was the sole cause of accident #1 and his case against that Defendant driver was dismissed.

Accident #2:  The Plaintiff claimed to have been hit by a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle. There were witnesses and the licence plate of the Defendant driver was recorded. This information was in the ICBC files, and possibly in the police files.  The Plaintiff deliberately chose to ignore the information he was given and simply sued ICBC as a Defendant.  There was no explanation as to why he waited four years, and only two weeks before trial, to seek leave of the Court to add the driver as a Defendant. As a result, the Court action against ICBC was dismissed.

Accident #3:  The Plaintiff was riding his bicycle fast down a hill. The Defendant driver stopped at a side street, to wait for the Plaintiff to pass through the intersection. As the last second, the Plaintiff turned into her street, while looking behind him. The Defendant driver’s car was stationary in the middle of a narrow street with parked cars on both sides and she could not move to the right or left. The Plaintiff crashed into her. He was going too fast and looking behind him at the time of impact.

The Court found that the Plaintiff carelessly and negligently turned right into the Defendant driver. The Court found the Plaintiff wholly at fault for the accident and dismissed the action.

The Plaintiff failed to prove liability in all three actions. All three actions were dismissed, with costs ordered against the Plaintiff.

At Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota, we are experienced in dealing with multiple personal injury claims.  Contact us for your free consultation.