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All the Parties Involved in an Auto Accident Could Wind Up Sharing the Blame

One of the misconceptions that accident victims have about being involved in a car accident is that there is always a clear-cut determination as to who was responsible, and who was not. In the province of Ontario, it is up to the Court to determine liability in an auto accident.

When there is an accident, there is a list of parties that could be considered to be at-fault. Some of those parties include:

  • the drivers of the vehicles
  • pedestrians that may have been part of the incident
  • the municipality responsible for maintaining the road conditions
  • any contractor that may have created unsafe road conditions due to road construction
  • passengers of the vehicles if the passengers were found to influence the driver's decision making process

A good example of how a Court may decide to allocate liability in an accident occurred in the province of Ontario in 2011. A driver was found to be speeding through a construction zone where the paved road transitioned to a gravel road that was being repaired. The driver lost control of his vehicle, went off the road, hit a telephone pole and died. The driver's family sued the municipality because the roads were unsafe and insufficient warning of the road conditions was given. The contractor was also sued for not creating a safe transition from paved road to gravel road.

The judge gave an interesting decision in which he agreed that the municipality neglected its duty to protect the public by not closing the road during construction. The construction company had put up warning signs, but the judge ruled that the warning signs were insufficient protection.

The judge also ruled that the signs the construction company used were inadequate warnings for the unsafe road conditions. The contractor was found liable because it did not create a safe driving environment for the public. The judge ruled that the contractor was contractually obligated to create a safe transition area from the paved road to the gravel area and it failed to do so in this case.

The driver was not let off the hook for this incident. In his final ruling, the judge allocated 25 percent of the liability to the municipality, 25 percent to the contractor and 50 percent to the driver because of the unsafe speed at which the driver was operating his vehicle.

If you get into an accident, then you may be held partially at fault. A judge can assign liability for an accident to any parties that were responsible for the accident occurring. Before you assume that any one party is completely liable for the outcome of an accident, you should talk to a lawyer and get the right information about your case.


For assistance with a personal injury and/or insurance claim, please email David Himelfarb at or call 1-855-446-7765, for a free case evaluation.

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