“Wholly Inadequate” Stop Sign Placement Leads To Liability For Collision
Thursday, September 25th, 2014
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding a construction company largely at fault for the ‘wholly inadequate‘ placement of a temporary stop sign in a construction zone.
This week’s case (Richmond v. Channa) involved a two vehicle collision where the Channa vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign controlled intersection and collided with the Richmond vehicle. While the Court found Channa 25% to blame for the crash the Court held the lion’s share of fault rested with a construction company who blocked visibility to the intersection’s stop sign and placed an inadequate temporary sign in its place. In reaching this apportionment Mr. Justice Skolrood provided the following reasons:
 In the case at bar, I find that Tien Sher bears primary responsibility for the accident. It is clear from the evidence that the temporary stop sign, which again was in fact a flag person’s paddle, was placed on the construction fence at a point where the line of the fence had already started to curve to the right or to the north. As such, it was not visible to vehicles travelling west on 107A Avenue until just before those vehicles actually enter the intersection with Ring Road.
 Further, the size and placement of the temporary stop sign was wholly inadequate. As noted, it was much smaller than a normal or permanent stop sign. Moreover, its placement on the fence at an awkward downward pointing angle would not necessarily signal to drivers that it was intended to function as a regular stop sign and to control west bound traffic on 107A Avenue.
 It is particularly telling that Mr. Pereira and Mr. Mossey, employees of the City, both identified the temporary stop sign as a safety hazard.
 Tien Sher’s failure to ensure proper placement and size of the temporary stop sign was compounded by its failure to provide drivers with advance warning of the sign. Such advance warning would have been a reasonable and prudent measure in the circumstances, given that the temporary sign was located well away from where the permanent stop sign was situated and, again, was obscured to drivers.
 In the circumstances, I find that Tien Sher’s conduct created an objectively unreasonable risk of harm to drivers of vehicles proceeding west on 107A Avenue towards the intersection (Ryan v. Victoria (City),  1 S.C.R. 201 at para. 28). I find further that Tien Sher’s negligence caused the accident in that but for its conduct, the accident would not have occurred (Athey v. Leonati,  3 S.C.R. 458 at para. 14; Resurfice Corp. v. Hanke,  1. S.C.R. 333 at paras. 21 – 23 and Clements v. Clements,  2 S.C.R. 181 at para. 8). In this regard, I accept Ms. Channa’s evidence that had she seen a stop sign, she would have stopped before entering the intersection…
 I have already found that Tien Sher bears primary responsibility for the accident. It’s failure to comply with the minimum standards set out in the Manual, due in large measure to the fact that its designated safety officer did not even know of the Manual’s existence, its failure to erect adequate, or any, warning signs, and its wholly inadequate placement and sizing of the temporary stop sign demonstrates a disregard for the safety of drivers using 107A Avenue and constitutes conduct that is significantly more blameworthy than that of Ms. Channa.
 I apportion liability 75% against Tien Sher and 25% against Ms. Channa.