Oil on the road as a cause of accidents
Oil on the road is sometimes a contributing cause of accidents. Whether drivers will be excused from liability for accidents caused by oil on the road will often depend on whether, despite the existence of oil on the road, the driver should have been able to avoid the accident.
In Kalineiko v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, 2003 BCPC 151 the plaintiff was involved in an accident when he encountered oil on the road. ICBC said that plaintiff was liable for the accident and that his insurance premiums would increase. The plaintiff sued for a declaration that he was not liable and that his insurance premiums should not be affected by the accident. The court found that the accident occurred without negligence by the plaintiff and that the oil on the road from a spill the previous day was what caused the accident. Although the spill was sanded the previous day, the rain at the time of the accident made the road unexpectedly slippery again.
In Fedosenko v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, December 20, 1983, No. 82 10990 (SC) the plaintiff claimed against the Insurance Corporation on account of the negligence of an unidentified driver who was alleged to have left an oil slick on the road. The oil slick caused the plaintiff to lose control of her vehicle, but the court held that negligence could not be inferred from the mere presence of oil on the road and so the plaintiff’s claim was dismissed.
In Singleton v. Morris, 2010 BCCA 48 the plaintiff’s vehicle was rear ended by the defendant who failed to stop in time on a steep downhill when there was an unexpected oily substance on the road. The plaintiff relied on the rear-end nature of the accident to establish an inference of negligence, but the defendant’s explanation that she was unable to stop due to the presence of an oily substance on the road (of which there was clear evidence) was accepted.
In Suzuki v. Bain, 2005 BCSC 1276 the defendant lost control on a corner and struck the oncoming vehicle in which the plaintiff was traveling. Although there was a substance, likely diesel fuel, present on the roadway in the area of the curve, the court found that the defendant should nevertheless have been able to negotiate the curve if traveling at an appropriate speed, and ruled in favour of the plaintiff.
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