Billabong and driver at fault

  • Mar. 31, 2011 2:00 p.m.

A Supreme Court judge has upheld a provincial court ruling that says that the area’s road contractor and a local motorist are both to blame for a car accident this past February.

Madam Justice Bruce oversaw the appeal from Billabong Road & Bridge Maintenance which sought to overturn an earlier ruling that saw both them and respondent Brittany Erin Brook paying a 50 per cent share in the cost of her destroyed vehicle — $3,250 each.

On Feb. 17, Brook was following a sanding truck as she drove from Telkwa to Smithers in the morning. She was driving 60-or-70 km/h at the time, and lost control of her vehicle at the section where the truck stopped sanding, just out of a curve.

The vehicle slid down the highway on the driver’s door, fortunately there were no injuries or other vehicles involved.

The provincial judge who oversaw the original hearing found that the appellant, Billabong, was liable for the accident by failing to sand the road where the accident took place in a timely and effective manner. The driver was also found liable for failing to take reasonable steps to avoid the accident.

Billabong appealed on the grounds that the provincial judge was wrong in imposing a higher standard to them than was required by its contract with the province.

However Justice Bruce found in the appeal that based on the contractual obligations of Billabong they did not attend to the black ice in a reasonable amount of time considering the circumstances.

That includes the fact that that section of Highway 16 is well travelled at that time of the morning.

That being the case, Brook still did not take “reasonable evasive action to avoid the accident,” Bruce said in the ruling.

“Thus there were two equally contributing causes for the accident. One, the appellant’s failure to maintain the road in a safe condition; and two, the respondent’s failure to take precautionary measures to avoid sliding on the ice.”