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You would think that if you have a green light and the other driver has a red light and they hit you, you wouldn’t be at fault…well, you could be… A recent decision came from the Ontario Court of Appeal sheds some light on liability and how a driver who has a green light can still be partially liable.
Accidents and Red Lights
By: Brent Meadows
Evan Sant was a passenger in Joel Sant’s pickup truck that entered an intersection on a red light and was hit by Mr. Sekhon. The jury found that Joel Sant was 95% liable and Mr. Sekhon was 5% liable. The jury’s finding that Mr. Sekhon was 5% liable was the main issue under appeal.
Ordinarily, a driver with a green light is free to proceed through an intersection and may assume that driver’s approaching the intersection from other directions will stop at a red light. This statutory right of way is, however, not absolute as the driver must still exercise proper care. For example, if it is clear that a vehicle is in or about to proceed into the driver’s right of way that driver must avoid the collision if the circumstances permit.
The jury found that the reasonably prudent driver should have been aware that Joel Sant’s vehicle posed a hazard, and ultimately found that Mr. Sekhon was 5% liable for the motor vehicle collision.
The Ontario Court of Appeal held that the trial judge did not misdirect the jury, the jury’s finding was not plainly unreasonable, and that certain cross-examination questions were not improper or inflammatory. Mr. Sekhon’s appeal was dismissed and the finding that Mr. Sekhon was 5% liable was upheld.
Obviously it goes without saying that drivers need to exercise caution regardless of whether the light is red, green or yellow. In this accident case, not one person was help 100 % responsible. Drivers cannot predict what other drivers are thinking and will do, regardless of lights, stop signs etc… the moral of the story here is that we can’t jump to the conclusion that if a driver is at fault, that they are entirely at fault and the percentage of liability remains a question. A driver who has the right-of-way has the obligation to exercise reasonable care in the operation of a motor vehicle.
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