Fault and Liability for Motor Vehicle Accidents in Alberta
posted in: Personal Injury
How is Fault or Liability Assessed in a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Fault or liability for causing an accident is either created by law or defined by common law. Common law recognizes four basic levels of fault:
- Negligence (failure to use reasonable care causing damage or injury to another)
- Recklessness (wanton conduct to another)
- Intentional misconduct (willful disregard of the rights and safety of another)
- Strict liability (regardless of fault causing damage or injury to another)
Under common law, individuals who have caused a car accident have committed a tort, a private wrong against another (but not at the level of an intentional tort or crime). Those who have committed torts are referred to as tortfeasors under the law.
How the Rules of the Road Can Determine Liability?
Deciding who is at-fault is especially difficult in accidents with more than two vehicles and numerous points of impact, but can also be an issue in two-vehicle collisions as well. In cases where it is not entirely clear who caused the accident, liability may be apportioned – or split – between the drivers involved in the accident.
The Alberta Traffic Safety Act is referenced to determine liability apportioned for all parties involved, as it governs the Rules of the Road, which is statutory law. You can also reference the Alberta Driver’s Guide to Operation, Safety and Licensing for Cars and Light Trucks.
What is Contributory Negligence With Liability?
You should be aware of contributory negligence even if you are driving properly and safely, by not wearing a seatbelt. Contributory negligence is the failure of an injured plaintiff to act prudently, considered to be a contributory factor in the injury suffered, and sometimes reducing the amount recovered from the defendant.
In Alberta, the law regarding contributory negligence is under the Contributory Negligence Act for:
- Apportionment of liability
- Determination of degree of fault
- Questions of fact
- Last clear chance rule not applicable
- Adding party defendant
Accident Reconstruction, Seatbelt Examination and Assessments
Vehicle pre-and post-impact speeds, accident avoidance potentials, visibility issues, seat belt usage and effectiveness are some of the more common issues normally addressed. Here are some factors that are used to determine liability:
- Retain a lawyer earlier regardless of fault
- Get an objective view of your compensation
- Even if you think you are at fault, there could be a split in liability
- Track down the witnesses ASAP and provide these contacts to your lawyer
- Review all motor vehicle accident data
- Reconstruction engineer will attend the motor vehicle accident scene and map out the scene and inspect the vehicle impact to help determine liability
- Reconstruction engineer will also examine the seat belt and analyze
Analyzing personal injury accidents successfully requires special investigative techniques. A wide variety of situations can lead to personal injury. Our personal injury lawyers can help you understand how liability is assessed in a motor vehicle accident. Contact us for a free consultation.