I was hit in the right lane by a semi-trailer unit that turned right – who is at fault?

  • It depends on the facts – each drivers must keep a proper look out
  • The truck driver must drive in a way that minimizes the risk of people trying to pass on the right
  • If you hit the back of the semi, you will likely be found all or mostly at fault

In Stewart v. Dueck, the truck driver was pulling two trailer units at 15 km/h.  He had to make a tight right hand turn.  He signalled left, moved from the slow lane into the fast lane and part-way into the left turn lane, put his hazard lights on, then signalled right and turned.  The entire manoeuvre was an arc, designed to prevent drivers from passing him while he made his turn.  When he started the turn the claimant was about 122 feet behind, travelling at 30 – 40 km/h.  Despite about 60 feet of the 72 foot truck and trailer unit passing in front of her, she failed to see the truck until she was about a dozen feet from impact.  She ran into the front wheels of the rear trailer.

The judge decided that the car driver was completely at fault.  The truck driver had met the standard of care of a reasonably careful driver in the circumstances.  The collision happened because the car driver was not paying sufficient attention.  Where there is nothing that obstructs your vision and there is a duty to look, it is negligent not to see what is clearly visible.

In Conklin v. Smith, the semi turned on his left turn signal, slowed down to about 5 km/h and moved almost completely over the centre line into the oncoming lane.  The motorcycle driver following behind thought the truck was going to turn left so decided to pass on the right, driving at a speed of about 45 km/h.  The truck then turned right, and the motorcycle hit it just in front of the rear wheels of the truck.

The trial judge found the truck 75% at fault and the motorcycle 25% at fault.  The court of Appeal agreed.  Although the trucker was mostly to blame, it should have been obvious to the motorcyclist that one of the manoeuvres the truck might make was to turn right, and that the swing to the left was for the purpose of making a right turn.  To pass on the right side, at the speed he did, when he could not be certain of the trucker’s intention, was negligent.

Cases involving passing on the right are fact dependent, but we can help.  Contact us.

Read the cases:  Stewart v. Dueck

                            Conklin v. Smith