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Driver's liability appeal dismissed

May 11 2012

A rear-end collision caused in part by a deer crossing the Island Highway near Qualicum has been dismissed by the B.C. Court of Appeal, leaving one Island driver liable for $470,835 in damages.

On Sept. 10, 2006, Sherman Power of Duncan was driving northbound in the fast lane with his 16-year-old daughter in the front passenger seat. Power noticed a deer when it was 60 metres in front of him and he thought it was going to jump the concrete barrier into his path.

He decided to make an immediate lane change to the right. While he was checking his mirrors, the deer moved into his vehicle's path. The vehicle was between the two lanes when it struck the deer.

Power's vehicle was then struck from behind by a pickup truck driven by Stewart White, who was towing a U-Haul single-axle trailer in the slow lane.

White, who testified that he was driving 90 to 95 kilometres an hour - below the 110 km/h speed limit, but above the 88 km/h allowed while driving a U-Haul trailer - was found liable for the collision in B.C. Supreme Court in 2010. He appealed the decision.

On Wednesday, three judges from the B.C. Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court's ruling that White, in the following vehicle, was liable. "The judge found that the appellant ought to have reacted by braking as soon as he saw there was a hazardous condition ahead, and that he ought to have been driving at a slower speed when towing a trailer without brakes," Justice Anne Rowles wrote in her reasons.

Hitting an animal is covered by comprehensive insurance policies and any claims made will not affect discount levels, said Lindsay Olsen, a spokeswoman for ICBC.

She urged drivers to be alert, especially at dusk and dawn, and to watch for highway warning signs.


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