Jan 5 2023 |
In Bad Weather, Who's At Fault In A Car Accident In Mississauga
Driving in bad weather is no joke. According to a report from Aviva Insurance, over 40% more insurance claims are made in Ontario in the winter, serving as a testament to the hazards of driving during inclement weather.
Canadians are too familiar with driving on icy roads or in poor visibility, and we know how much harder it can be to stay in control when driving on black ice. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, it is natural to want to blame the slick roads if you get in an accident. But will your insurance accept bad weather as an excuse for an at-fault accident?
What is Considered a Weather-Related Car Accident
Particularly in the winter, the weather can create dangerous driving conditions, like slippery roads and poor visibility, making it more difficult to handle your vehicle. The most common causes of weather-related driving hazards are:
- Snow and whiteout conditions
- Ice, especially black ice
- Rain and flooding
In these harsh conditions, it’s not hard to imagine how easy it would be to lose control and crash your car. Serious car accidents are common in bad weather, with about 20% of accidents resulting in serious injury having an environmental factor contributing to the cause. Naturally, you would want to blame the ice if you slide into a parked car in January, but it’s not so simple.
Who is At Fault in a Bad Weather Accident in Ontario?
Unfortunately, the driver is usually still considered at fault for an accident, even in the worst winter storm.
After an accident, fault is determined by the insurer, using Ontario’s Insurance Act Fault Determination Rules. The act outlines over 40 scenarios that are used to assign fault to each party involved as anywhere from 0% to 100% at fault.
The act makes it clear that the degree of fault is determined without reference to the weather conditions, visibility, or road conditions.
This might seem unfair, but the idea is that drivers are required to adjust their driving behaviour to suit the conditions that they are driving in. So, for example, if the roads are slippery, you are expected to drive slowly and increase braking distance. Failure to adjust your driving or prepare your vehicle for bad weather is still considered negligence according to Ontario law.
What is Meant by ‘Negligence’ in Bad Weather Accidents?
Negligence means that the at-fault party was acting in a way that violated their duty of care while operating a motor vehicle. It is required that drivers are fully engaged, prepared, and capable of keeping everyone safe on the road.
You can be deemed negligent for both your driving behaviour and the condition of your vehicle at the time of the accident.
Some behaviours that can be deemed negligent when driving in bad weather include:
- Not adjusting your speed to suit the road conditions
- Failing to adjust your braking habits
- Diving distracted
- Accelerating quickly when taking turns
- Not leaving enough distance between cars
Some examples of when the condition of your vehicle can be deemed negligent in bad weather include:
- Driving without winter tires or with worn-out tires
- Failing to replace a burnt-out headlight, tail light, or brake light
- Driving with inadequate windshield wipers
- Driving with poor brakes
Will Your Insurance Cover the Damages?
Whether your insurance will cover the damages to your vehicle will depend on what coverages you have on your policy.
Ontario has no-fault insurance, which means that your insurer will pay out damages covered by your policy regardless of who is at fault. If you only have the minimum required insurance, that does not include damage to your vehicle when you are.
This is what Ontario’s mandatory insurance includes:
- Third-party liability coverage of at least $200,000: covers damage to other parties when you are at fault
- Statutory accident benefits coverage: Covers expenses that you incur if you are injured regardless of fault
- Direct compensation – property damage: Covers damage to your property when another party is at-fault
- Uninsured automobile coverage: This covers you if you are injured or your property is damaged by an uninsured driver
To cover damage to your property if you are at fault for an accident, you need to add collision coverage to your policy. This will pay for damages to your property caused by a collision with another object. Note that it will not cover damages from, say a tree falling on your car in a windstorm. For that, you would need to add comprehensive coverage as well.
When to Call a Car Accident Lawyer
If you don’t agree with your insurance company’s fault decision, or if you believe that another party was responsible for the accident, then it might be time to reach out to a car accident lawyer. The other party doesn’t have to be another driver. It could also be a pedestrian, a car manufacturer, or even the city.
That’s why it is so important not to admit fault or apologize after a car accident as it hurts any argument down the line. If you think you have a case to challenge your insurer’s decision or file a claim against another party, it is important to gather as much evidence as you can and to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Zayouna Law is a car accident lawyer in Mississauga. Our team of professional lawyers can help you understand your options for challenging an insurance decision, filing a claim against another driver, filing for long-term disability, and much more.
Contact Zayouna Law to book a free consultation to learn about your rights and options following a car accident.