CASE LAW - Bayfield v British Columbia (Ministry of Transportation)
Christine Bayfield was driving her van southbound on the Inland Island Highway in rainy and wet road conditions. She overtook a logging truck to avoid being sprayed by the water it picked up off the pavement. As she passed, she lost control, began to rotate and left the pavement, rolling over in the median. She was traveling at about the posted speed limit of 110 km/h. Aside from speed, a contributing factor to the incident was insufficient tire tread. Mr. Justice Affleck found her to be partially at fault because she was driving too fast for the highway conditions at the time.
What is unique about this case is that the Justice also found the Ministry of Transportation partially liable for the collision as well, stating:
I find the defendant failed to take reasonable care in the design and/or construction of highway 19 at the location of the accident. The median, because of its steep sides and faulty drainage, which were not consistent with proper design and construction practices when Highway 19 was built, created an unacceptably high risk that if a vehicle left the pavement having experienced hydroplaning, a risk known to the defendant, instead of entering an area of relative safety it entered into an area of danger with a substantial risk of a rollover accident with consequent serious injuries. The risk of a rollover accident could have been avoided, or at least reduced if the slopes of the median were shallower, as good engineering practice dictated, and if there had been adequate drainage in the swale for the large quantities of rainwater that were known to the defendant to be prevalent in the location of the accident.