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Common sense rules when a pedestrian is hit in a crosswalk

NOTE: This decision has been reversed – updated summary to be added shortly

A pedestrian’s claim was dismissed in Vandendorpel v Evoy, 2015 BCSC 176, after he activated a crosswalk sign but entered the crosswalk against the raised hand traffic control signal and failed to keep a proper lookout.

At 6:45 AM on a wet October morning the plaintiff walked into a crosswalk after pressing the button to activate the walk signal but before the signal was displayed. He was dressed in dark clothing including a hooded pullover and wearing headphones, listening to music. The defendant driver did not see the plaintiff but saw his light change from flashing green to solid green, which indicated that the crosswalk button had been pressed. Pressing the button would change the light to vehicle traffic from a flashing green to a solid green, then yellow and red, at which point the crosswalk signal would turn to “walk.” The court found that the defendant had entered the intersection on a yellow light, but he was not required to stop because the stop could not be made safely. The plaintiff did not notice the defendant’s vehicle until it was 30 metres away, although its headlights were on and he should have seen it well before he did.

The court held that the change in the traffic light should have alerted the defendant to the fact that a pedestrian was in the area, but it was reasonable for him to assume that the pedestrian would obey the rules of the road and wait for the signals to change before crossing. The plaintiff, however, failed to obey the instructions of the traffic control device, and then failed to exercise due care after exposing himself to greater danger by putting himself in an unexpected position in the roadway.

This case is an excellent example of common sense prevailing to arrive at a fair and just result.

Case law update by: Trevor Morley