Gardiner v. MacDonald, 2016 ONSC 602

Released January 26, 2016 | Full Decision [CanLII]

This case arose from an accident that occurred between a public transit bus and an SUV, which resulted in the death of three of the SUV’s occupants including the driver who had been drinking. The SUV entered the intersection on a red light while the bus entered on a green light just moments later and struck the SUV from the side. The case proceeded to trial solely to determine the degree, if any, to which the bus driver and the municipality were liable for the accident.

Upon considering the evidence, the court found that the bus driver was likely speeding just before he entered the intersection and that a lower rate of speed would have given the bus time to avoid the SUV. The court further found that the weather conditions decreased the ability to avoid a collision, and the bus operator looked away from the road as he approached and entered the intersection.

Justice Roccamo concluded that the bus operator had been negligent in his operation of the bus and apportioned 20% of the liability for the accident to the municipality. Justice Roccamo concluded that although the bus had the right of way, his speed was unreasonable in the circumstances as it prevented him from recognizing and reacting to the danger posed by the SUV. The court then established the following principles:

  1. Speeding does not, in itself, constitute negligence as the question of whether a vehicle’s speed is reasonable turns on the factual circumstances, including the traffic and road conditions.
  2. Although drivers may assume that other drivers will obey traffic signs and signals, drivers with the right of way must still exercise proper care and determine whether it is safe to proceed.
  3. Professional drivers may be held to a higher standard of care than the general public which, in the case of bus drivers, is that of a reasonable bus driver in like circumstances.

 

Read the full decision on CanLII

Einav Shlomovitz
Written by

Einav practices exclusively in civil litigation. Her practice focuses on motor vehicle accident, accident benefits, occupier’s liability, slip/trip and falls, dog bites, medical malpractice, solicitor negligence, class action, employment and sexual assault claims.

During her free time, Einav takes improv and Spanish lessons. She enjoys being active, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.