Liability of the Left-Hand Turning Vehicle

An interesting decision in the case of an accident involving a left turning vehicle was recently handed down in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The Plaintiff was a taxi owner/operator who, after dropping off a passenger outside Vernon, pulled up to a stop sign. He intended to turn left onto the highway heading south back to Vernon. As he made his way across the northbound lanes toward the southbound lanes to turn left, the Defendant, in a delivery van, was heading northbound towards him. The vehicles collided, causing enormous damage to both vehicles and severe injuries to the Plaintiff. The Court determined that both drivers departed from the standard of care expected of them in the circumstances, and each created a magnitude and gravity of risk. The Plaintiff failed his obligation to yield the-right-of-way, perhaps because he did not see the van. He also failed to keep a proper lookout. Based upon experts’ estimates, the Defendant was speeding, thus preventing him from taking evasive measures either by braking adequately or swerving out of the way. He failed to exercise caution by not noticing the hazard, reducing his speed, and taking steps to avoid the risk. Even so, the Court ruled that the Plaintiff was more blameworthy and apportioned 75% fault to the Plaintiff and 25% to the Defendant.


The Motor Vehicle Act of B.C. is very specific when it comes to left-hand turns.

Yielding right of way on left turn

174    When a vehicle is in an intersection and its driver intends to turn left, the driver must yield the right of way to traffic approaching from the opposite direction that is in the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard, but having yielded and given a signal as required by sections 171 and 172, the driver may turn the vehicle to the left, and traffic approaching the intersection from the opposite direction must yield the right of way to the vehicle making the left turn.

We all think we’re competent, defensive drivers, and proceed more or less with the assumption that all other drivers will also do their duty; namely, to observe the rules of the road. However, most accidents happen at intersections, particularly when a vehicle is turning left. Many drivers run red lights, see an amber light as a signal that it’s clear for take-off, or at the very least, think they can sneak through, even when vehicles are waiting to complete their left-hand turn and clear the intersection.

So, if you’ve been hit by a vehicle making a left-hand turn, or conversely, have hit another vehicle when you’ve been making a left-hand turn, you need us. Don’t rely on ICBC, particularly because of the complex liability issues. It’s important to know that even if liability if partially allocated against you, you may still be entitled to receive a monetary (money) award or settlement. You need someone truly on your side. Contact Einfeld Law for a free, initial consultation at (250) 712-0001, visit our website at or find us on facebook.

D. Glenn Einfeld is a highly knowledgeable and experienced BC personal injury lawyer and BC motorcycle accident lawyer who has successfully litigated many ICBC claims and other insurance claims, including out of province claims, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury, whiplash, soft tissue injury, and all other serious injury claims.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Reddit