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Surrey pedestrian injured after wandering intoxicated into traffic loses lawsuit

Gurminder Singh Johal, 40, was seriously injured when hit by Honda Civic after wandering onto busy King George Boulevard
Statue of Lady Justice at Vancouver courthouse. (File photo: Black Press Media)

A Surrey pedestrian who was hit by a car after wandering intoxicated into traffic on King George Boulevard has lost his lawsuit against the driver.

Gurminder Singh Johal conceded negligence on his part but maintained the defendant, Kiranjit Kaur Dhaliwal, was also negligent. But Justice Murray Blok found otherwise.

“Fault for this accident rests with the plaintiff alone,” Blok concluded in his March 17 reasons for judgment delivered in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

Johal, 40, was seriously injured when a Honda Civic hit him shortly after 7 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2015 after he wandered intoxicated into a traffic lane on busy King George Boulevard. The court heard he has no memory of the crash.

“The evidence indicates that he was very intoxicated at the time,” Blok said.

It was dark out, Johal was wearing dark clothing. “The liability issue centres on a relatively straightforward point,” the judge explained, “whether the defendant driver, Ms. Dhaliwal, ought to have seen Mr. Johal and taken appropriate measures to avoid a collision.”

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Johal said he had been arrested for impaired driving “a lot of times,” the Blok noted. “Mr. Johal said his pre-accident activities consisted of going to bars and casinos, and occasional Canucks games, with friends.”

The court heard Johal finished dinner, “had a few drinks” at home and then headed out to a shopping mall. His last memory was being at a bus stop waiting for the bus, but “everything else is a blur from the bus stop.”

The next thing Johal remembered, the court heard, was waking up in Royal Columbian Hospital.

The crash happened near the old Best Buy store on King George Boulevard, an area Johal described as “very well lit” with a lot of traffic and pedestrians. Prior to the accident, he said, he had seen pedestrians crossing the boulevard in the middle of the block “numerous times.”

The court heard from Carolyn Kirkwood, a forensic toxicologist and expert in blood alcohol levels who calculated Johal’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be 239 mg. of alcohol in 10 ml of blood, as of 7:14 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2015 – about three times the legal limit to drive.

Assuming Johal had began drinking at noon that day, Kirkwood said, he would have to have consumed 14 one-ounce drinks of hard liquor or 14 eight-ounce glasses of beer to achieve the level he was at.

Dhaliwal was an “N” driver at the time. She testified she had her “full attention on the road.” Blok found “it is clear that Ms. Dhaliwal had the right of way” and that she “was entitled to assume that other highway users would obey the rules of the road.

“She was also entitled to expect that adult pedestrians would not jump out directly in front of her as she was proceeding lawfully on her way,” the judge said.

“The defendant was travelling at a speed well within the speed limit,” Blok concluded. “I accept her evidence that she was paying reasonable attention to the road.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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