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New Trial Ordered to Determine whether Police owed Duty of Care

Bergen v. Guliker 2015 BCCA 283 involved a head on collision that killed two people following a police chase of the suicidal defendant. The police had initially planned on surrounding the mentally unstable defendant, but when he saw the police, he took off in a vehicle and was pursued by the officers. Shortly later, the defendant crossed over the centre line and collided head-on with a vehicle being operated by one of the plaintiffs.

At trial, the court apportioned liability at 80% to the defendant and 20% to the police officers. The police officers were at fault for failing to conduct a proper risk assessment and have a plan before the police chase occurred.

The Court of Appeal set aside the judgment and ordered a new trial on two grounds. First, the police officers did not have a legally recognizable duty of care prior to the police chase, and a full analysis of whether such a duty of care existed needed to be completed by the trial judge. Secondly, the court required expert evidence as to the standard of care of a police officer in these circumstances to determine their standard of care.

Case law summary by: Chelsea Lott