Did Road Conditions Cause your Accident?
In Ontario, motor vehicle accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. Every driver is at the mercy of the elements, the seasons, construction work, and the acumen and attentiveness of other drivers they share the road with. In the event of an accident, what legal recourse does a victim have if road conditions caused or contributed to their accident?
Every road is required to adhere to a standard of safety for motorists, decreasing the chance of an accident due to conditions outside of the motorists’ control. Road conditions can apply to anything that impacts the structural integrity of the road or its surface. This can include:
- Insufficient lighting
- Cracks and potholes
- Black ice
- Slick roads
- Poor signage
- Construction work
Some road conditions might not seem dangerous but when combined with human factors like fatigue, impairment, and distraction, innocuous conditions become risky, presenting a greater chance at injury or death. If a stretch of road isn’t properly lit, the lowered visibility can result in an accident. If a road is slick from rain, black ice or a spill and is not prudently cared for in a timely manner, a vehicle could hydroplane or lose traction leading to an accident.
If road conditions caused or contributed to your motor vehicle accident, you could seek damages against a branch or level of government, the contracted company whose job it was to repair or maintain the road, in addition to any other drivers involved in the accident. A personal injury lawyer can help determine what parties are legally liable and to what extent for the pain and suffering and property damage you experienced.
Construction is key to providing drivers with optimal road conditions and safeguarding the health and safety of all Ontario roads. Construction is a necessity to road maintenance, yet still pose challenges and risks to drivers. The Ontario portion of the Highway 400 endures roughly 400,000 vehicles a day in addition to the elements, and the average main or side road experiences so much wear and tear that construction is inevitable.
Drivers have no choice but to trust the work performed by construction crews, and that municipalities provide diligent inspection and approval. While road work is ongoing, proper signage should be in place, sharp turns and detours need to be communicated and the adjusted speed limit through a construction zone needs to be clear. The company performing the work has a duty to keep the construction zone safe for workers and motorists in accordance with municipal or provincial laws and standards.
A condition that can impair a road’s safety needs to be handled promptly by those responsible for road safety. Municipalities partner with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to maintain roads, and implement a standard that creates safe driving conditions year-round. They hire third-party contractors to remove snow and ice, and to perform repair and construction work. While measures have been implemented to increase oversight of these third-party contractors, their negligence can lead to car accidents, which in turn, can result in injury or death. Contractors are also responsible for debris removal, including roadkill, car parts or foreign objects, all of which create dangerous road conditions for motor vehicles.
Plaintiffs often blame the other driver involved in the accident, not realizing that road conditions could be a factor. Claims should be brought against all parties whose actions or negligence caused the accident. This is where consulting with a personal injury lawyer early in the process can make a difference.
If a municipality, the province (who maintain highways) and/or third-party contractors tasked with maintaining the roads fail to adhere to a proper standard of care, one or more could be held liable when an accident happens. The plaintiff must prove to the courts that a party was negligent in their care of the road, resulting in unsafe driving conditions. If the plaintiff believes road conditions negatively impacted another driver which directly led to the plaintiff’s accident and injuries, they must prove that the road conditions caused the accident.
The plaintiff could seek damages for medical expenses, home healthcare, pain and suffering, or lost wages.
Ontario Personal Injury Lawyers
Motor vehicle accidents are complicated and aren’t always the result of two vehicles where one is clearly at fault. It takes an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine fault and if road conditions were a factor. The team at Mackesy Smye helps victims build a strong case and seek damages from all responsible parties, working to ensure victims receive the compensation they deserve. Get in touch with us when you’re ready to review the specifics of your case.