Cars stopped leaving the intersection clear, I drove across the road, and was hit by a car in the curb lane that passed the stopped cars – who is at fault?

  • Each driver must take due care to assess the situation
  • If the driver crossing a multi-lane road stops and determines that no cars are an immediate hazard, he gains the right of way
  • A car that passes those stopped cars and hits the crossing car may be at fault

In Robinson v. Lakner the defendant wanted to cross a five lane road.  The two westbound lanes closest to him were empty.  The traffic in the two closest eastbound lanes was backed up and stopped, keeping the intersection clear.  The curb lane was empty.  The stopped drivers waved him forward, and he slowly crossed the intersection.  He did not see the plaintiff, who hit him in the curb lane.  The plaintiff had moved into the curb lane six to eight car lengths away from the intersection and passed a line of stopped cars.  Her speed was 50 km/h. 

 The judge decided that the plaintiff was 100% at fault.  The defendant had stopped as required before entering the intersection.  There was no immediate hazard from oncoming cars, so he gained the right of way.  The plaintiff was not paying sufficient attention and was driving without reasonable consideration for other drivers.  She was driving at an excessive speed for the traffic and visibility conditions.

On the other hand, in Kwong v. Leonard, the defendant wanted to cross a gridlocked 4 lane road to reach the alley on the other side.  He slowly crossed the first three lanes, slowly and carefully entered the fourth lane, and was hit.  He could not see down the fourth lane because a truck blocked his view.  The plaintiff was driving in the fourth lane at 40-45 km/h.

 The judge decided that the defendant was 95% at fault.  He knew of other, less hazardous routes, but chose not to take them.  He should not have entered the plaintiff’s lane without ensuring that it was safe to do so.  The plaintiff’s degree of fault was small.  The judge said that to rule otherwise would be to require all cars travelling down a main road to slow down at every alleyway where there is heavy traffic and other traffic in the adjacent lanes.

 As you can see, it is hard to predict how fault will be decided in an individual case.  Ultimately, we need to know what each driver considered and did in the moments leading up to the collision.

If you do not agree with ICBC’s assessment of liability in your collision, contact us.  We can help.

Read the case:  Robinson v. Lakner

                          Kwong v. Leonard

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