Vehicle Accidents: Establishing Legal Liability
Most vehicle accidents seem cut and dry, barely worth easing off the accelerator as you drive by the scene. The unfortunate truth, though, is that these accidents can be complex, and for many of the victims, establishing a legal liability can be a challenge that requires expert legal help.
In the aftermath of a vehicle accident, establishing legal liability is imperative to determine which party or parties is legally responsible for having caused the accident. Ultimately, establishing legal liability can determine if any compensation is awarded and what each party would receive.
Scene of the Accident
The scene of an accident can be confusing, hectic and emotional, making it difficult to sort out the details and establish legal liability at an early stage. Here are some of the factors that need to be considered in order to determine liability:
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- Cause of the accident
- Condition of the vehicles
- Speed of vehicles at the time of accident
- Police reports
- Were either the driver or drivers sober and of sound mind?
- Were either the driver or drivers distracted?
- Did any party break any laws related to driving?
As you can see, there are a lot of contributing factors to the average vehicle accident. While the police’s goal is to establish legal liability with respect to criminal charges, a personal injury lawyer endeavours to establish legal liability to determine if their client has a case.
When establishing legal liability, more than one party can be held fully responsible. The blame can be equally divided among all of the parties or percentages of blame can be assigned based on the circumstances of the accident. Each case is different and needs to be reviewed and tried on its own evidence and testimonies.
Reporting an Accident
In Ontario, if the estimated damages stemming from a vehicle accident exceed $2,000 then you are required to report it to the police. With respect to insurance providers, most require their clients to report any accident, no matter how minor. All reports and relevant data help influence deductibles and rates.
To report minor accidents where no one was injured, you can contact or visit one of Ontario’s Collision Reporting Centres. If you are unsure as to whether you need to visit a reporting centre, ask the police and they will guide you on to what to do.
After an Accident
If you are in an accident, make sure that you do not admit fault or discuss the details of the accident with anyone besides the police. Tempers and emotions can be high but remember there’s nothing to be gained from engaging in a heated argument with the driver or passengers of the other vehicle.
Record the facts while your memory is fresh. These facts could eventually be given to the police, claims adjusters, your legal counsel or doctors. In addition, take photos of the vehicles, the damage and the accident. Make sure to get the names and contact information of the other people involved and any witnesses. Lastly, be sure to obtain the police report.
After you leave the scene, the first order of business should be to tend to any medical needs. Even if you aren’t experiencing severe symptoms, it’s best to seek medical attention and document anything related to your injuries, including any psychological impact. Afterwards, contact a personal injury lawyer. They will collect all the relevant information and delve into your case. An effective personal injury lawyer will help determine if you were wronged or at fault or if your situation falls somewhere in between the two. Even if you are unsure about pursuing legal avenues, it’s advisable to speak to a personal injury lawyer about your legal rights and options.
In addition to understanding your rights, make sure you know the rules of the road. Being knowledgeable about traffic laws could help you understand whether you are liable or not, or could even prevent an accident.
Need a Lawyer?
At Mackesy Smye, our team of dedicated personal injury lawyers know that vehicle accidents are complicated and require legal counsel. If you incurred physical injuries, emotional distress or other costs like a rental car then you should be compensated if the accident was the result of another driver’s negligence.
Contact us for a free consultation either at 905-525-2341 or via our confidential online form.