Right of Way and Liability

For those of us who can remember back to the days when we were taught to drive (by a licensed instructor) we would remember that we never simply driving for ourselves. We were told that we need to drive for others as well, including our passengers and our fellow drivers on the road.

This is carried across to Canadian Law, and the simple fact is that you can be held liable for an accident even though it was caused through extreme negligence on someone else's part. Below, we use an example from an actual case where this happened.

Case example

In the case of Sant v. Sekhon, Evan Sant was injured when a freightliner collided with the pickup in which he was an occupant.

Joel Sant was driving the pickup in question, and chose to run a red light at an intersection, when the freightliner driven by Jharmal Sekhon came into contact with him while driving on a green light.

"It is very clear that Joel Sant is liable for the accident, but is Jharmal Sekhon liable as well?

He was driving in accordance to the light and he had the right of way. In the eyes of many, he did nothing wrong. 

The trial Judge found that Joel Sant was ninety-five percent liable, and Jharmal Sekhon was indeed five percent liable. Even though the driver had the right of way, it was still his responsibility to ensure that it was safe to continue driving. The right to drive, as green light indicates, should still be used with caution and only if there are no signs of danger.

Capital Transport Corporation and Canada Drayage Inc (the owners of the freightliner in question) and their employed driver (Jharmal Sekhon) the appellants in this case, appealed the decision and cited three main reasons as to why they did not agree with the ruling.

  1. The decision made by the jury was unfair and if the same evidence were reviewed by any other jury, they would not uphold the initial jury's stance.
  2. The issue of causation was overlooked by both the jury and the trial Judge
  3. The tactics of the lawyer representing the plaintiff were questionable and may have tainted the jury's mindset.

The appellants argued that nothing about the situation was indicative of the driver running the red light, but that claim was refuted by eye witness testimony and an expert witness provided by the victim.  

Based on the evidence presented, it was deemed that the jury's decision was acceptable. Also, the appellants felt that the judge specifically minimized one of the most important aspects of the case in an instruction he gave to the jury about causation.

"When reviewed, it was seen that the statement in question was taken out of context, and that when applied to the charge in its entirety as it was at trial, was in no way biased to the jury." The appellants, who were the defendants at the time, did not find it necessary to object to it at trial, thus the decision was upheld in the Appeals Court. 

It is extremely difficult to prove unprofessionalism of opposing council during a trial.

Here specifically, the lawyer for Evan Sant, the injured party, repeatedly asked the defendant, Jharmal Sekhon, if he was coached by his lawyers to answer certain questions in a certain manner. This form of repetitive questioning could place doubt in the jurors minds and insinuate that he was lying.

Based on preceding cases as well as the pertaining jurisprudence, it was seen that this particular case did not meet the standard to which it could be validated and the appeal was dismissed.

Liability is a complex issue that can be handled ably by choosing the right  personal injury lawyer.

Allow us at Gluckstein Lawyers to ensure that you are represented in a professional and efficient manner if you or someone you know has been hurt in an accident.

Call us today for a free initial consultation.

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