On the streets, pedestrians are vulnerable, surrounded by massive vehicles and without any safety equipment to protect them. As a result, pedestrian accidents can result in very serious injuries with long recovery times, and leave victims in need of compensation for things like medical treatment and income loss.
Drivers are presumed liable for pedestrian accidents in Ontario
Drivers that strike pedestrians are almost always found liable for the accident. Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act creates a “reverse onus” of liability for pedestrian accidents. This means that once a pedestrian proves that the accident happened, the driver involved is assumed to be negligent, and must prove that they were not at fault in order to avoid liability.
Pedestrians are expected to cross public roadways at appropriately designated areas, such as crosswalks, where available. At other points, pedestrians must find a safe crossing point and yield to oncoming traffic.
Split liability where a pedestrian behaves unsafely
If a pedestrian is struck while acting with disregard for their own safety, they can be found partially at fault for their injuries. In these cases, liability is split between the driver and pedestrian, depending upon the facts of the case. Some factors that are relevant to assessing liability include:
- Visibility: Was the area well lit? Was the pedestrian wearing clothes that made them easier or more difficult to see?
- Driver action: Was the driver speeding, intoxicated or distracted? Were they using their headlights? Did they take action to avoid the collision or use their horn to alert the pedestrian?
- Pedestrian action: Was the pedestrian crossing safely? Did they dart in to the road unexpectedly? Did they take action to avoid the collision or warn the driver? Were they intoxicated or distracted?
- Prevailing circumstances: Was the area commonly used by pedestrians? Should the driver have expected or anticipated high traffic? Was the area adjacent to a school or park?
Even where a pedestrian behaved unsafely or acted unreasonably, fault will be apportioned between the parties relative to their degree of responsibility. Victims can still be eligible for compensation, even where they were partly liable for their injuries.
Toronto injury lawyers obtaining compensation for pedestrian accident victims
Anyone that is the victim of a pedestrian accident in Ontario involving a car, bus or other motor vehicle is eligible for Accident Benefits, which helps cover the cost of treatment, including things like physical therapy, personal care, and medication, as well as some compensation for income loss and other expenses. Victims may also be able to advance a civil claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for their pain and suffering, and any additional losses that were not covered by Accident Benefits.