The Role of Road Maintenance in Accidents
For over a decade, the roads in Ontario have been among the safest in North America. To accomplish this high safety standard, The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) works with cities and townships to improve and maintain roads, mitigate harsh winter conditions and ensure the safety of Ontario drivers. If poor road maintenance contributes to a motor vehicle accident, can the victim sue the municipality and its contractors?
Road Maintenance Responsibility
Municipalities in accordance with the MTO must do the following to maintain their roads:
- Regular inspections
- Repairing cracks and holes in the asphalt top or concrete bottom
- Protecting all roads from water damage that could result in the asphalt lifting
- Providing sufficient lighting on every stretch of road
- Inform the public of any road hazards or construction
Toronto, for example, inspects a road every 20 years, and during those inspections, performs stringent engineering tests. If the road is found to be in disrepair, the city will hire contractors and authorize repair work to be done.
Have you ever complained about traffic caused by repairs or maintenance being performed on a road that looked perfectly fine? If so, your anger might have been unfounded. Toronto and other cities in Ontario take preventative measures to improve road surfaces and avoid future deterioration. This strategy prolongs the health of the road and saves taxpayer money in the long run.
Ontario municipalities hires contractors to provide many of the pertinent road maintenance services. These contractors could be tasked with snow removal, road inspections, applying anti-icing elements or repairs of different scopes. In the event of an accident, it is possible that the contracted company could be found liable if their work or negligence contributed to the accident.
Poor Road Maintenance
Motor vehicle accidents can be caused by poor lighting which can hinder visibility, a pothole that causes a motor vehicle to veer or swerve or a municipality not providing prompt care against weather conditions such as icy roads or snowfall.
In the event of an accident caused by poorly maintained roads, municipalities can be held legally responsible for damages. Victims of an accident should remain at the scene and make sure the police report reflects the road conditions at the time of the accident. A police report doesn’t legally determine liability, but it can be paramount to building the foundation of a strong case.
Drivers need to operate their vehicle with respect to the law and with prudence towards other drivers. They should have the peace of mind that the roads they’re travelling on have been inspected, properly maintained and are protected against the elements.
Winter Highway Maintenance Action Plan
The province is responsible for maintaining the highways in partnership with the MTO. Specifically, the MTO reviews standards, implements new technologies and equipment and executes strategies to combat winter driving conditions. The province plans and performs all road repairs and maintenance.
Winter in Ontario brings its own slew of road maintenance issues and leads to a greater chance of motor vehicle accidents. Ontario has a commitment to keeping drivers safe, evidenced by the Winter Highway Maintenance Action Plan. Per this plan, the MTO contracted all highway maintenance to the private sector and shifted to a performance-based model with greater oversight. In addition, the plan outlined greater road maintenance vigilance starting in 2015-2016 and for the Auditor General to review the effectiveness of Ontario’s winter road maintenance.
The objective was to achieve a greater investment of resources into the maintenance and care of Ontario highways during the winter. It also created deeper partnerships with the OPP, contractors and road safety groups to educate and promote responsible winter driving.
Despite these efforts, municipalities and contractors can still be found liable for motor vehicle accidents that resulted from poor road maintenance.
Personal Injury Lawyers
Municipalities are obligated to maintain the roads to achieve optimal safety conditions. Part of this obligation is to increase its efforts during the winter months where greater safety measures are required. Failure to do so could result in motor vehicle accidents.
A personal injury lawyer can help motor vehicle accident victims navigate the complex legalities of receiving compensation from a negligent municipality or third-party contractors. Work with the personal injury lawyers at Mackesy Smye to understand the nature and validity of your claim, how to proceed and how much compensation you could be entitled to. Our experienced team can help you build a strong case.
Contact us today to confidentially review your case and determine a proper course of action.