A 17 year old girl cyclist who crashed into a moving car after watching the sunset at Wreck Beach was found 65% at fault, in a Supreme Court decision on April 14, 2015.
Cyclist Rachel Matkin had been drinking and smoking marijuana at Wreck Beach, with her friend Assis Briochi-Serrano on September 2, 2011. The accident happened on her ride home, in the intersection of Blanca and Drummond Drive in Vancouver at 8:45 p.m. – after the sun had gone down. Ms. Matkin was not wearing a helmet or reflective clothing, and her bike was not equipped with a headlight.
The driver of the car was Crown Prosecutor Peter Hogg, who was driving a blue Volkswagon Jetta. He was found 35% at fault for the accident.
The only independent witness in the case was Ms. Matkin’s friend, Mr. Briochi-Serrano. Unfortunately, the witness was unable to attend trial due to unspecified mental illness. The judge relied on his pre-trial examination, which was found to be entirely unreliable.
Mr. Hogg testified that he could not remember whether or not he activated his left turn signal before entering the intersection where the accident occurred. Ms. Matkin collided with the front left fender of his vehicle. He had not seen the cyclist; otherwise he stated that he would not have pulled from his parking position onto the road.
Mr. Hogg recalled that the cyclist was knocked to the ground from the accident, and sustained scraped knees and a mark on her head. She alleges that she suffered a brain injury from the accident.
Justice Kent stated that Ms. Matkin’s version of events suffered from a variety of testimonial weaknesses. She had no recollection of the actual collision, and there were several elements of her version of events which “defy common sense, logic and the laws of physics.” Considering all of the evidence, Justice Kent concluded that the collision was caused by both the actions of the plaintiff (Ms. Matkin) and the defendant (Mr. Hogg).
He stated, “Ms. Matkin’s conduct was careless and perhaps even reckless. She should have noticed and obeyed the stop sign. She should in any event slowed down and paid better attention to the Hogg vehicle once she saw it. She should have had an illuminated headlight on her bicycle and it would also have been prudent for her to wear reflective clothing. Had she done even just some of these steps she would have been seen by Mr. Hogg, she would not have entered the intersection beside him, and the accident would not have occurred.”
Justice Matkin also noted that Mr. Hogg should bear some of the blame for the accident because he did not illuminate his left turn signal before entering the intersection. Because he did not give warning of his intention to turn, he had breached the required standard of care, and as a result was liable in negligence.
Jayne Embree, M.A.
Jayne holds a Masters in Psychology and is a highly experienced Divorce Coach and Child Specialist. She is currently working with the Administrative and Human Resources Departments of Butterfield Law.