No damages awarded for collision with cows

Driver alleged that farmer was responsible for failing to keep the cattle property penned up.

A driver who struck three cows on Downes Road in Abbotsford in 2011 has lost a civil suit in which he blamed a farmer for failing to keep the cattle properly penned up.

Jan Gerrit Wiebe said the crash that damaged his 2011 Toyota Corolla was unavoidable, and he took Paul Schmidt to court for the $3,900 it cost to repair the vehicle and $225 in towing fees.

The collision took place on April 15, 2011. Wiebe testified that by the time he realized there were cows in the road, he had little or no opportunity to stop in the darkness and the rain.

According to court documents, the cow slid across the hood of his car and broke the windshield. The cows also struck both sides of his vehicle, causing the front quarter panels to buckle, and the side mirror smashed into the driver’s window, which broke.

Schmidt testified that he kept his cattle enclosed in a pasture surrounded by a wire fence.

He said when he learned that his cows had escaped, he discovered that a branch from a large tree located about 15 feet from the fence line had broken off and landed on top of the barbed wire, causing it to sag.

The cows were then able to step over the wire. None was seriously injured in the crash.

Judge Kenneth Skilnick stated that Schmidt was protected from liability under the Livestock Act, provided he took reasonable care to keep the cattle confined.

“The evidence suggests that but for this occurrence over which the defendant had no control, the cattle would not have escaped …”

Skilnick noted that police who attended the scene did not attribute any fault to Wiebe, and there was no evidence to suggest that he had been speeding at the time of the crash.

Skilnick ruled that neither party was at fault, and each side would bear their own costs. The decision was made Feb. 6 in Abbotsford provincial court.