Car Accidents and Potholes
They seem to be everywhere. They cause bumps, delays and even car accidents. What are they? They are the dreaded potholes.
After the winter we have just had, it seems that the pothole situation is at an all-time high. They are causing damage to vehicles and causing car accidents if someone loses control when hitting a pothole.
If your car has been damaged in an accident caused by a pothole, or simply by the pothole itself, what are your avenues to seek compensation for such damage from the accident? Can you hold the municipality responsible for any damage that was caused to your vehicle due to a pothole? It is important to understand the standard of care for a municipality as it relates to potholes and any damage to vehicles or accidents potholes may cause.
Justice Leach of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice spoke to this issue in the recent decision of McLeod v. General Motors of Canada Limited et al., 2014 ONSC 134. This case was about a young woman who was driving her vehicle on a country gravel road when she lost control of her vehicle and had a car accident due to potholes on the road. She sustained serious and life-threatening injuries as a result of the car accident. The young woman began an action against the rural municipality.
Justice Leach determined that the action should be dismissed. This means that the municipality would not be held responsible for the accident caused by the potholes. For the municipality to be responsible, certain things must transpire. They are the following:
- Official Complaints to the Municipality should be made.
This does not mean complaining around your city or town, but actually submitting formal complaints to the municipality about the potholes.
- The condition of the road must be in a state of disrepair.
A road that is in a reasonable condition, does not count! For instance, a gravel road is expected to have bumps and holes and thus it is not in a state of disrepair.
Additionally, these two points have to coincide. What this means is, even if the road is in disrepair, the municipality can rely on the defence that it had no knowledge of the defect and thus it is not held responsible for any accident. The municipality has the responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent the defect from arising by having regular systems of grading and it must meet the minimum standards of inspection and pothole repair. If it does these things, it may not be held responsible for any accident and/or damage that may occur as a result of potholes.
Potholes are going to continue to be the bane of many peoples’ existence. They are something that we all have to live with, however they should be fixed as soon as reasonably possible by the municipality. You have the responsibility to avoid dangerous accident-causing situations, if possible and you must make formal and detailed complaints about potholes, so that if any damage occurs because that pothole has not been reasonably fixed, you will have avenues of recourse!
If you have sustained personal injury from an accident or car accident, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm to find out about your legal rights.