Motorcycle U-turn accident, who is at fault?
In Alberta, this question was answered in Dirk v. Toews, 2019 ABQB 176 – here, both the Plaintiff and the Defendant were travelling on motorcycles on the same road. The Defendant was ahead of the Plaintiff at an intersection when the Defendant slowed down, pulled into the right side of the road, then immediately pulled out left into the Plaintiff’s lane to make a U-turn, all without any signal or shoulder check. This caused the Plaintiff to swerve to avoid a collision – the Plaintiff was thrown off her motorcycle and injured.
The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff was speeding and failed to slow down when she saw the Defendant slowing down ahead of her. The Court disagreed and found the Plaintiff’s speed was reasonable in the circumstances. The Defendant pulled a U-turn so suddenly and without warning that it became an emergency situation. As per the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Gill v Canadian Pacific Railway,  SCR 654, drivers facing an emergency situation do not need to show perfect reaction.
The Court further found that the Defendant did not have the right-of-way at the intersection. Although the Defendant initially had the right-of-way, by being the vehicle in front, the Defendant made clear steps to yield his right-of-way to the traffic behind him when he slowed down and turned into the right side of the road. The Court found that the Defendant’s U-turn was illegal and he was convicted under the Traffic Safety Act.
Ultimately, the Court concluded that the Defendant acted carelessly and it was the actions of the Defendant which caused the accident and the Plaintiff’s resulting injuries.
The Plaintiff’s pain and suffering were significant. Physically, the Plaintiff suffered a severe concussion and brain trauma, serious leg injuries which required surgery, damage to her hand and thumb, a rib fracture, and back and hip pain. As a result of these injuries, the Plaintiff suffered chronic pain and experienced psychological trauma. The Plaintiff developed problems with depression and anxiety which reduced her ability to enjoy and fully participate in her employment and day-to-day activities. The Plaintiff was awarded $185,000.00 for her pain and suffering.