Ontario and Ajax have a generous system of no-fault (statutory) benefits that will provide insurance coverage for, depending on the severity of injuries, medical expenses, rehabilitation, in-home care, and lost wages if you were injured in an accident. These benefits are available to you even if you were at fault for an accident, and even if you were the only car involved in the accident.
However, sometimes an accident is caused by the carelessness of another driver. In these cases, you may have the right to take the other driver to court in order to obtain damages that go beyond what the no fault accident benefits insurance will provide. In order to get these damages, you will first have to show negligence on behalf of another driver.
There are two ways to recover from a driver who was negligent — through insurance claims, or through a lawsuit. Showing negligence on behalf of another driver works a bit differently for each.
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With insurance claims, there are laws that detail the factual scenarios of an accident, that give insurance companies guidance about when their insured driver is or is not negligent. For example, the Ontario Insurance Act and its regulations and Highway Traffic Act states that when a car is stationary or moving, any car that hits it from behind is liable for the accident. If a car enters a roadway through an access road and collides with an oncoming vehicle that is already in the roadway, the car that was trying to enter the roadway is the vehicle at fault.
The Fault Determination regulation contain numerous diagrams and hypotheticals for as many as 40 different kinds of car accidents, explaining who is liable for each type of accident. Although this is not determinative of liability in a tort claim, it provides a sound rationale in support of liability against the at fault party.
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Suing Negligent Drivers
Filing a lawsuit against the negligent driver is another way to obtain compensation. In court, the fault determination rules are hypotheticals and do not apply. Instead, the laws of negligence will determine who is responsible for causing an accident.
Negligence is the failure of someone to act the way another reasonable person in the same situation would act. Negligence is an objective standard that measures someone’s behavior in a certain situation against how others would behave in a similar situation. Drivers who do not use reasonable care when driving and who cause an accident, can be held liable for being negligent.
Sometimes, negligence is obvious. Some examples where a driver may have obviously failed to use due care might include:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Causing an accident while exceeding the speed limit
- Driving while “distracted” (texting, or fiddling with in-car information systems)
- Driving when drowsy
- Driving with defective vehicle parts, such as non-working brakes or lights
In other cases, determining who is at fault may not be so clear. Both drivers may claim that they had the green light, the right of way, or both drivers may claim that the other driver drove past a stop sign. In lane change accidents, both drivers may claim the other entered into their lane. Some roadways may not have traffic signals or markings indicating the rights of way at all.
Negligence can even depend on the circumstances. For example, driving in a certain manner may be fine normally, but in snow, rain, or inclement weather, driving that same way can be negligent.
Proving negligence takes evidence, and evidence is especially crucial in accidents where it is not immediately clear who negligently caused an accident. The testimony of eyewitnesses, and the findings of experts are critical. An Ajax lawyer who knows how to find negligence on behalf of another driver can help corroborate your version of events using other evidence.
Sometimes, clues as to who is negligent are physically present at the accident scene. For example, skid marks in the roadway, the position of the cars immediately after the accident, or the location and extent of damage to the vehicles all can help an accident reconstruction expert piece together how an accident happened.
Often, data from any electronic devices can be used to prove negligence on behalf of another driver. For example, cell phone records may show that a driver was talking or texting when an accident occurred. Many vehicles track the car’s systems, the way a plane’s “black box” does. This information can reveal how fast a car was going, what direction it was traveling, or when the brakes were applied.
Pictures that are taken at the scene of the accident can be crucial evidence in determining negligence by another motor vehicle driver.
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Insurance Company Defenses
All of this information will help your lawyer present the facts of your case to an insurance company, or to a court if you need to file a lawsuit. A negligent driver’s insurance company will usually defend a negligent driver in court, and pay whatever damages a court orders be paid, up to the limits of the insurance policy.
Whether in or out of court, an insurance company may try to place blame for an accident on the victim that is making the insurance claim or filing the lawsuit. Some of these defenses are just desperate attempts to avoid taking responsibility for negligent driving, but others have some merit.
Drivers who are found to be partially liable for the accident will have any award to them reduced by the percentage of their own liability. For example, if a court were to find that a driver was 10% responsible for an accident, and that the driver’s damages were $30,000, the ward would be decreased by $3,000.
We Can Help You
The same evidence and information used to show that another motor vehicle driver was negligent, can be used to fight or refute allegations that a victim is fully or partially responsible for causing the accident. A good motor vehicle lawyer can help you defend against these claims, which are often made by insurance companies and negligent drivers.
The lawyers at Preszler Law Firm can help you investigate your case and prove that another driver negligently caused your accident. Call us today to discuss your injuries and your accident.