When Poor Road Conditions Cause Car Accidents: What You Can Do

Poor road conditions, potholes and prevention

Have you been in a car accident caused by poor road conditions?

Poor road conditions cause up to 10% of car accidents.

Pothole Dufferin St Toronto
Pothole on Dufferin Street, Toronto, Ontario

While 90% of car accidents are caused by driver error, the other 10% are caused by poor road conditions such as potholes, erosion, shoulder drop-offs, missing guardrails, lack of maintenance and bad design. These accidents can cause car damage, serious personal injury and even death. In situations where poor road conditions led to a car accident, who is responsible?

In Ontario, responsibility for road conditions is shared between municipalities and the province. Municipalities are responsible for maintaining city streets. The Province of Ontario is responsible for maintaining provincial highways, such as the 400-series highways (401, 400, QEW, etc.) and smaller numbered highways (11, 35, 169, etc.). Provinces and municipalities are permitted to hire agencies and contractors to maintain roads and deal with poor road conditions. If your car was damaged or you suffered personal injury as a result of poor road conditions, it may be possible to bring a claim again the entities the city or province hired to complete the maintenance as well.

If you were involved in a car accident caused by poor road conditions a number of elements will have to be proven in order for liability to be found:

  1. First, it will be essential to show that the poor road conditions actually caused damage to the car and/or personal injury. In doing so, any arguments that the driver’s poor driving or other condition (such as weather) caused the accident will have to be dispelled.
  2. Second, it must be shown that the municipality or province (or the agency they hired) had a duty to maintain the road in question and keep it safe.
  3. Third, you must demonstrate that the municipality, province and/or agency were negligent in preventing and/or dealing with poor road conditions and maintaining the road. In some situations, it may also be incumbent on the plaintiff to show that the municipality, province and/or agency had a duty to warn drivers of poor road conditions where they presented a danger to drivers.

If you are considering suing a municipality, province or agency for damages for personal injury or damage to your vehicle due to poor road conditions, is very important to remember that there is a two year limitation period within which you must bring your claim. The two year limitation period generally starts on the day the car accident occurred. After this two-year period is up, you will not be permitted to make a personal injury claim.

One way we can all make the roads safer for everyone is to report poor road conditions to the municipality or province, as the case may be. Most municipalities have a 311 number people can call to report poor road conditions such as potholes, missing guard rails and road erosion. When calling about a pothole, be prepared to give the exact location of the pothole and a description of it. You can also report potholes to your local CAA branch or online at their website.

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury or damage to a vehicle in a car accident where poor road conditions are a factor, please contact our Oakville personal injury law firm for more information about personal injury sustained due to poor road conditions.

 If you’re curious, here are the Top 10 Worst Roads in Ontario (2014), according to a CAA poll:

  1. Dufferin Street (Toronto)
  2. Stanley Avenue (Niagara Falls)
  3. Kipling Avenue (Toronto)
  4. Finch Avenue West (Toronto)
  5. Burlington Street East (Hamilton)
  6. Bayview Avenue (Toronto)
  7. Carling Avenue (Ottawa)
  8. Markham Road (Toronto)
  9. Lawrence Avenue East (Toronto)
  10. Wilson Avenue (Toronto)

Source: CAA

 

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