What is the Duty of a Driver to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle?

 

When travelling on a roadway or highway it is inevitable that you will encounter an emergency vehicle.  What are your obligations on the road in relation to this emergency vehicle?  Section177 of the British Columbia Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) states:

 

On the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle giving an audible signal by a bell, siren or exhaust whistle, and showing a visible flashing red light, except when otherwise directed by a peace officer, a driver must yield the right of way, and immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the nearest edge or curb of the roadway, clear of an intersection, and stop and remain in that position until the emergency vehicle has passed.

 

In short, section 177 states that if the emergency vehicle is giving an audible signal and showing a visible signal there is an obligation on drivers of the road to yield to the emergency vehicle.  However, as stated in the BC case of Watkins v Dormuth, 2014 BCSC 543:

 

”The duty imposed by s. 177 of the MVA to yield to an emergency vehicle is not absolute. A driver must have time to perceive and react.”

 

In Watkins, a police officer crashed into another driver while attempting to overtake the vehicle.  The police officer claimed that the other driver should have pulled over by virtue of s.177 of the MVA.  The court placed 100% of the blame on the police officer as the police car was behind her for only a short period of time. The driver of the police car did not show that this time was long enough such that a reasonably alert driver would have perceived the lights and sirens of the police car and pulled over.

 

Emergency vehicles do not have free rein in exercising their driving privileges.  They are constrained by the duty to drive with regard for due safety.

 

If you would like legal advice as a result of a car accident, please contact Heath Law LLP at 250-753-2202 or toll free: 1-866-753-2202.

If you were working at the time of the accident it is very important to determine if the other motorist involved in the accident was also working. According to the laws of British Columbia, special rules apply where both you and the other motorist involved in the accident were both working. In such a scenario, if you were injured and suffered loss and expense including a loss of income you can only seek compensation through WorkSafe BC.

There are strict timelines associated with your potential claim. The Workers Compensation Act of British Columbia places a three month limitation on claiming compensation through WorkSafe BC. This means that there is a short time frame to act to preserve your legal rights.

If the other motorist was not working at the time of the accident, then you can elect to make a claim through WorkSafe BC or make a claim against the other motorist through ICBC. The compensation systems under WorkSafe BC and ICBC generally yield very different results. If you have been in a car accident, you should contact Heath Law LLP to discuss your options.

Call 250-753-2202 or Toll Free: 1-866-753-2202

After a motor vehicle accident it is very important to gather the appropriate information in case of a he said/she said battle over legal responsibility or liability.

Assuming that you do not need emergency medical attention after the motor vehicle accident you should look at and record the other driver’s licence number, the licence plate of the vehicle that hit you as well as their insurance information. It is worth stressing the importance of verifying the other driver’s licence number and not just asking for their name. This will remove the chance of the other driver providing you with a phony name. Take a picture of the other vehicle (and licence plate), the other driver and the other driver’s licence.

Also, take pictures of the scene of the accident, which would include any damages to vehicles as well as the position of the vehicles after the accident. If there are any 3rd party witnesses, their information and identity should be recorded to provide their account of the accident if there is a battle over liability.

After the accident there are also different entities that you should contact. Right after the accident you should contact ICBC. At this initial contact you should provide ICBC with the information that you gathered at the scene of the accident. Also, it may be necessary to call the police after the accident. If it is a hit-and-run accident you must contact the police; by calling the police you create a record of the accident which can be of assistance later on in the ICBC process. Finally, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will act on your behalf, guide you through the legal process and ensure that you are appropriately compensated from the accident.

If you or someone you know has been in a car accident contact Heath Law LLP.

On your usual commute to work something unusual happens. While driving to work, a wild animal darted across the road which resulted in you colliding with another vehicle and injuring the other driver. The other driver has sued you and the liability for the accident has currently been assigned to you at 100%. You are thinking that this is extremely unfair as there was nothing that you could have reasonably done to avoid the accident. This situation is governed by the defence of inevitable accident (the “defence”).

The defence places an onus on the person asserting the defence to prove that the exercise of reasonable care while driving could not have prevented the accident. The circumstances of the accident must have been beyond the driver’s control.

The defence has been pled in a few different scenarios in which the defendant has claimed that the accident was entirely out of their control. For example, defendants have pled the defence when a rogue bee has flown into their car, when a wild animal darts across the road and when the driver loses consciousness while driving.

For the defence to be successful the court must be satisfied that the inevitable accident was indeed inevitable and that the circumstances causing the accident were not reasonably foreseeable.

The court must be satisfied that there was nothing that the driver could have done to avoid the accident. For example, the defence may not be successful every time an animal crosses the road as the amount of time to react, the driver’s attentiveness and the type of animal will be considered. A driver’s evasive or lack of evasive action must be deemed by the court to have been reasonable in the circumstances.

The court must also be satisfied that the circumstances which caused the accident were not reasonably foreseeable. For example, if the road you were travelling on was frequented by darting deer, it would make a deer appearing on the road and causing an accident reasonably foreseeable. Also, if you have a health condition that may cause you to lose consciousness, losing consciousness on the road and causing an accident could be also be considered reasonably foreseeable. Lastly, if you know that the outdoor temperature was going to cool below freezing after a rain, slipping on ice would be reasonably foreseeable.

Passenger in a Motor Vehicle Collision

A passenger in a motor vehicle collision may experience significant injuries. These injuries may affect a person’s ability to work, go to school, perform household tasks, and his or her ability to engage in leisure activities. If you have suffered injuries as a passenger in a motor vehicle collision, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and expenses, including compensation for loss of income, pain and suffering, and the cost of treatment. Generally, you must start a legal action within two years of suffering the injury.

Who to sue?

In some cases, the Court may determine that no one was at fault for the collision. An example of a no-fault collision may be where a deer has unexpectedly run out in front of a vehicle and the driver was not driving negligently when he or she hit the deer. In these circumstances, your lawsuit may not succeed and your only compensation may be the accident benefits available through your insurance company.

However, more commonly, someone is responsible for the collision. As a passenger in a vehicle, the driver of your vehicle or the driver of the other vehicle may have caused the collision or both drivers may be at fault. For this reason, in many cases, an injured passenger will sue both the driver of the vehicle in which they were a passenger and the driver of the other vehicle.

Although it may be uncomfortable to file a lawsuit against your friend or a family member who was driving the vehicle, that person will likely have insurance coverage that will respond to your claim. The driver’s insurance company will, in almost all cases, provide the driver with legal representation and will cover the amount your claim up to the limit of the driver’s insurance policy.

If you are found to be partially at fault

In some circumstances, a passenger may be partially to blame for the injuries he or she suffers. For example, if you did not wear your seatbelt or if you did so incorrectly, a Court may find that you were partly at fault for any injuries that you experienced. If the insurance company is able to establish that your injuries would have been less serious if you had been properly wearing a seat belt, the amount of your damages could be reduced.

A pedestrian may be partially at fault for the accident if he or she was not acting in a safe manner. For example, a pedestrian may not look before crossing at a cross walk or may cross the street outside of a cross walk. If a pedestrian is found to have acted unreasonably in the circumstances, he or she may be found to be contributorily negligent and the pedestrian’s damages could be reduced.

In certain cases, ICBC may deny a pedestrian’s entitlement to any damages. For example, where the pedestrian was jaywalking and the driver did not have an opportunity to avoid hitting the pedestrian.

Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits

Under Part 7 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation, ICBC will provide certain insurance benefits to pedestrians injured in an accident irrespective of who caused or contributed to the accident. These no fault Part 7 Benefits may pay for expenses such as physiotherapy, medical equipment, and medication. The maximum that ICBC will pay under these Benefits is $150,000.

If you need any legal advice regarding an accident, please click here to contact us.