Court finds rear-end driver not liable for accident due to "sudden and unsafe lane change" by plaintiff

Personal Injury Blog

In reasons for judgment released this morning, the court in Varga v. Kondola, 2016 BCSC 2406, was presented with the problem of determining liability for a rear-end collision.  In Varga, the defendant argued he was not at fault for rear-ending the plaintiff, as the plaintiff had “suddenly” swerved in front of him leaving him no time to stop and avoid the collision.  Madam Justice Griffin ultimately agreed with the defendant, finding the plaintiff 75% at fault for the accident:

[94]         I have found the evidence of Mr. Kondola to be more consistent with the weight of the other evidence and more inherently probable than Ms. Varga’s evidence. I therefore prefer his evidence over hers.

[95]         Considering all the evidence, I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that Ms. Varga made an unsafe lane change.

[108]     …Mr. Kondola’s evidence that Ms. Varga made a sudden lane change and then braked is consistent with the other circumstances, most importantly, how close the parties were to the intersection at the time of the collision, combined with Ms. Varga’s desire to make it to the left-turn lane.

[114]     In short, Mr. Kondola’s evidence is consistent with the most probable scenario that Ms. Varga was trying too late and too close to the intersection to make it over to the left-turn lane. Accepting that, I find his evidence that she was in the lane to his right, lane 1, before suddenly turning in front of him, entirely consistent with the probable version of events.

[115]     I therefore accept Mr. Kondola’s evidence that Ms. Varga was driving in lane 1 when she suddenly made a lane change in front of him into lane 2, simultaneously while putting on her blinker and braking. I find that Mr. Kondola did not have the ability to avoid colliding with her.

[117]     I conclude that Ms. Varga did not meet her obligations under s. 151(a) of the Act as she turned left into another lane without first ascertaining that she could do so safely and without affecting the travel of another vehicle. I find therefore that she negligently caused the accident.

[127]     It is clear that Ms. Varga bears the greater responsibility for the accident. I find Ms. Varga 75% liable for the accident and Mr. Kondola 25% liable.

The full text of the decision can be found here: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/16/24/2016BCSC2406.htm

 

McQuarrie