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The Moose Was Loose; Now It’s Dead

In Ziemer v. Wheeler 2014 BCSC 2049 the defendant was driving his pick-up truck on a highway when he struck a moose. The moose lay dead or wounded on the highway in the dark. The defendant did not take any steps to warn other drivers of the moose on the roadway. Some time later, another driver struck the moose, lost control of his vehicle and had a head on collision with the plaintiff’s vehicle.

The court found the defendant not negligent with respect to his collision with the moose, but he was negligent for his failure to warn other motorists of the hazard the stricken moose posed. A driver who collides with wildlife must take reasonable steps to warn other users of the highway about the wildlife. What constitutes reasonable action will vary depending on the case. The time available to the driver is an important factor in assessing reasonableness. In this case, the court found that the defendant had about 9 minutes, but failed to take any reasonable steps to give a warning. The defendant took 21 minutes to return to the scene, which fell below the standard of care. The court concluded that if the defendant had taken reasonable steps to warn other motorists of the hazard, then the accident would not have happened, or at the very least, would not have resulted in such significant injuries.

Case summary by: Aharon Ittah