Road rules are necessary to keep traffic flowing smoothly – just imagine the traffic jams you would be stuck in every day if there were no rules of the road. But road rules serve another highly important purpose: following road rules increases the safety of people travelling on or near roads. Traffic accidents can often be avoided if drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians are careful and follow road rules. Because we are lawyers who represent only motor vehicle accident victims, we see first-hand the devastating effects of failure to follow the rules of the road, including broken bones, whiplash, and brain injury. Vancouver lawyers in particular see the vital importance of road rules, as there are a greater number of cars, trucks, cyclists and pedestrians to contend with in the busy city.
Who Makes Road Rules?
In British Columbia, driver behaviour is regulated by RoadSafetyBC, who develop road laws and policies to make travelling safe for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. The Motor Vehicle Act is the primary source of British Columbia road laws. It defines the rules of the road that apply to the operation of motor vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles, and it also sets out related offences and sanctions for failure to follow the rules. Examples of road rules in the Motor Vehicle Act are those governing passing, speeding, traffic control signals, rights-of-way at intersections, and seatbelt use.
The Criminal Code (which applies not just in British Columbia, but Canada-wide) also contains road rules; it defines criminal motor vehicle offences and sets out the related penalties. Examples for road rules in the Criminal Code are laws relating to dangerous driving causing injury, impaired driving, and failure to stop at the scene of an accident.
Getting Lax with Road Rules Leads to Accidents
We all learn the rules of the road before we take our driver’s test. We study the rule book on what the traffic signs mean, who has the right-of-way at a four-way stop, and how to properly overtake another vehicle. But as the years go by, some forget the rules of the road or get too laid back in how closely they follow them. Carelessness creates a risk for all users of the road and results in accidents which can be very costly in terms of time, money, and personal well-being. It is easy to see how a lax approach to road rules can cause major problems in a busy city like Vancouver. Brain injury lawyers, wrongful death lawyers, and catastrophic injury lawyers regularly deal with tragic accidents that could have been avoided if road rules were followed.
Road Rules Impact Personal Injury Settlements
When you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision and report it to ICBC, the ICBC adjuster will look at the circumstances surrounding the accident and determine who was at fault. Major factors in that determination are which rules of the road were broken and by whom. The ICBC adjuster will gather statements from the people involved in the accident and eyewitnesses, and will also consider whether any of the drivers received a violation ticket or criminal charge in relation to the accident.
Sometimes it is clear who was at fault, for example, if a driver was speeding and ran a red light, colliding with a vehicle that was proceeding through an intersection with the right-of-way. In such cases, the driver who failed to follow the rules of the road will be 100% at fault, and the accident victim will be entitled to full compensation for their injuries.
In other cases, the issue of fault is less clear-cut. A common example is when a vehicle is turning left on a yellow light and collides with a vehicle coming straight through the intersection. Should the left-turning driver have yielded the right-of-way? Could the driver proceeding straight through the intersection have stopped in time to avoid the collision? In this example, both drivers may have failed to follow the rules of the road and the ICBC adjuster may decide that both drivers were at fault. When that occurs, a personal injury claim arising from the accident will be reduced by the portion of blame assigned to each driver (e.g., if an injured driver was 15% at fault, his or her claim for compensation will be reduced by that 15%).
Road Rules and Actions in Negligence
If a personal injury claim is not able to be settled out of court, the matter must be decided in court by a judge or judge and jury. Lawsuits for personal injury are rooted in negligence. To establish negligence in a personal injury case, the injured person must show that someone acted in a careless way and that person’s action (or failure to act) resulted in injury. Much in the same way that an adjuster makes a determination of fault, the negligence analysis in a motor vehicle action is influenced by whether the rules of the road were broken and by whom. The judge or jury will examine the evidence of how the accident occurred and then make a determination of who is liable for the accident. If only the other driver was negligent, the injured person receives 100% compensation. The injured person’s compensation will be reduced if the court finds that he or she contributed to the accident in some way (this is called “contributory negligence”).
Motor Vehicle Accidents and Compensation in Vancouver
If you have been injured by someone’s failure to follow the rules of the road, our team of experienced accident lawyers can help. Call Bronson Jones & Company LLP toll free at 1-855-852-5100 (24 hours) to make an appointment at one of our 13 convenient locations throughout the Lower Mainland, including Abbotsford, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Langley, Maple Ridge, Surrey, and Vancouver.