Application of Rule 13 to vehicles travelling in opposite directions at uncontrolled intersection could lead to absurd results

Ontario civil | Insurance | Automobile insurance | No-fault benefits

Fault determination rules. Driver of motorcycle insured by insurer S collided with car driven by driver insured by insurer B. Accident occurred as car was in process of making left hand turn onto residential street with no traffic signals or signs. Motorcycle struck right passenger side of car. Driver of motorcycle applied to insurer S for statutory accident benefits and insurer S sought indemnification from insurer B pursuant to s. 275 of Insurance Act. Insurer B declined and dispute was referred for arbitration under Fault Determination Rules. Rule 12(5) of Rules provided that where two vehicles are travelling in opposite directions in adjacent lanes and one vehicle turns left in path of other, driver of left-turning vehicle is 100% at fault for accident. Rule 13(2) of Rules provided that where two vehicles collide at uncontrolled intersection, driver of second vehicle to enter intersection is 100% at fault for accident. Arbitrator found that Rule 13 only applied to accidents that occurred when vehicles were approaching uncontrolled intersection from intersecting highways and did not apply to vehicles entering intersection from adjacent lanes travelling in opposite directions as occurred in this accident. Arbitrator found that Rule 13(2) did not apply and that under Rule 12(5) insurer B was responsible for indemnifying insurer S for 100% of statutory accident benefits paid. Insurer B appealed. Appeal dismissed. Arbitrator’s decision was both reasonable and correct. There was no principled reason why accident which occurred between two vehicles travelling in opposite directions in adjacent lanes at uncontrolled intersection should have fault allocated differently than in accident occurring between two vehicles travelling in opposite directions in adjacent lanes other than at intersection. Application of Rule 13 to vehicles travelling in opposite directions at uncontrolled intersection could lead to absurd results.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Belair Insurance Company (2017), 2017 CarswellOnt 8333, 2017 ONSC 3281, R.D. Gordon R.S.J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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