Opening Door When Unsafe

The case ofBC Courts Coat of Arms Yu v Dynamic Air Solutions involves a collision between a motorcycle and the open driver's door of a pickup truck on Southwest Marine Drive in Vancouver. The key liability issue is whether motorcyclists should be allowed to proceed down lanes with parked vehicles so long as there is sufficient room to pass.

image of open door at crash scene

The Door of the Parked Pickup

Chan Wai Chan parked the Ford pickup that he was driving at the curb of SW Marine Drive to complete notes of his last appointment. Once finished, he began to open the door of the pickup to exit. He claimed that he had checked his mirror and over his shoulder for other traffic before opening the door and had not seen any approaching traffic in the curb lane.

Motorcyclist Passing on the Right

Yi Hao Yu was riding a motorcycle in the middle lane of 3 lanes available for his direction of travel when the traffic light ahead turned red. He stopped and waited about 30 seconds before deciding to move into the gap between traffic in the second lane and vehicles that were parked in the curb lane.

The Collision

Mr. Yu struck the door as it opened and lost control of his motorcycle. He fell off the bike and skidded down the road, hitting two vehicles in the second lane. As his body finally came to a stop, he saw his bike skidding towards him, and he had to stop it with his legs.

Decision of Liability

Justice Branch examined the applicable laws for careless driving, passing on the right when opening a door is prohibited. As counsel raised the questions of bicycles operating in the same manner as Mr. Yu, he included this as well.

The justice decided the following:

[88] I conclude that each parties’ negligence contributed to the Accident:

a) If the plaintiff had been more patient and stayed in the second lane, the Accident would have been avoided.

b) If the plaintiff had been shaded more to the middle of the gap, it is more likely than not that the Accident could have been avoided.

c) If the defendant had properly checked his mirrors or paid more attention to any traffic coming up the curb lane, it is more likely than not that the Accident could have been avoided.

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