Our Langley and Surrey ICBC Personal Injury Lawyer team handle hundreds of ICBC cases. The standard of care of a reasonable driver is often an issue in determining who is at fault for the crash and whether or not our Langley ICBC Personal Injury Lawyer clients obtain a large damages award.
A recent BC Court of Appeal case dealt with the standard of care when a police officer using a radar gun pulled a U turn to chase a speeding motorist and was in turn struck by a vehicle towing a trailer at trial the judge held both driver’s equally responsible but on appeal the Court of Appeal disagreed. Although the officer did not activate his siren he had his cruiser police lights activated and court held the driver towing the trailer was at fault for ignoring the officer with emergency lights activated.
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Here are the key details of the case of the police cruiser versus the driver towing the trailer:
Appeal from an order apportioning equally the liability for injury suffered by a police constable when a van towing a trailer crashed into the side of his police car during the course of his responding to a highway emergency. Held: appeal allowed. When the proper standard of care was applied to the material facts there was no basis on which to find the constable was negligent.
 I consider Maddex was granted the privileges of s. 122(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act. He was then entitled to disregard the rules of the road governing the direction of vehicles moving on the highway, providing he did so in compliance with s. 122(4). It was open to him to execute a U-turn, as he intended to do, from the left southbound lane and to do so without utilizing the left-turn bay.
 The judge appears to have held Maddex to a standard of care that precluded him from exercising the privileges of s. 122(1) such that he was considered to have been operating his police car illegally in attempting to make a U-turn as he did. The illegal operation of a motor vehicle mandates a heightened standard of care. Maddex’s conduct was then assessed from that perspective in finding him negligent. In my view, Maddex is to be held to the standard of care of a reasonable police officer responding to an emergency with which he was faced, on very short notice, with the benefit of being permitted to exercise the privileges granted under s. 122(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act.
 Under s. 122(4), Maddex was required to drive with due regard for safety, having regard for all the circumstances. He began his radar patrol by ascertaining there was no traffic following closely behind him. He activated his emergency lights when he observed the speeding truck. He then slowed his police car at a measured pace. When it was evident the truck was not going to stop, he determined to make a U-turn to apprehend the driver. He then focused his attention on the oncoming third vehicle to ascertain if and when he could safely make the turn. He continued to slow until he was satisfied; then he turned. He was, throughout, exercising due regard for safety.
 It is said, however, that even though all of that may be so, Maddex ought nonetheless to have known Sigouin was sufficiently close behind him that the U-turn was not to be made: Maddex was required to look behind and to the side. But that could at best only be so if he ought reasonably to have expected a vehicle may have been where Sigouin’s van and trailer were.
 Faced with the circumstances with which Maddex was confronted and on which he was focused ahead of him, it is difficult to see why he ought to have done other than he did. Having begun by determining there was no traffic within 10 or 15 car lengths behind him, he had no reason to expect a driver like Sigouin might, despite the emergency lights, drive at 80 kilometres per hour to the point where running into the slowing police car could not be avoided, and then careen past him on his left side travelling through the southbound left-turn bay across the intersection and into the opposing northbound bay. Indeed, it must be Maddex had every reason to expect that is something that would not happen. In any event, to burden him with having to avoid being struck as he was would, in the circumstances, be holding him to a more onerous standard of care than what he bore as a police officer engaged in responding to an emergency on the highway.
 I consider that when the appropriate standard of care is applied to the facts it cannot be said Maddex was in any way negligent such as to have caused the injuries he suffered. There was only one act of negligence that caused this accident: Sigouin drove without due care, and without attention to the police car responding to an emergency ahead of him, in clear contravention of the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act. All drivers must at all times be particularly aware and accommodating of police officers responding to highway emergencies in carrying out the onerous duties with which they are charged as part of their public service.
 I would allow this appeal and hold Spencer Sigouin solely liable for the injuries Constable Maddex suffered in the accident.
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