Making an Injury Claim for Single Car Accident Compensation

Posted by Injury Lawyers of Ontario on January 04, 2017

If you were injured in a single car collision, you maybe wondering how you can be reimbursed for injuries and losses resulting from the accident.  Depending on whether you are the driver or passenger, there are several options available to you.

Irrespective of who was at fault in the accident, both drivers and passengers can file a statutory accident benefits claim under the vehicle owner’s insurance policy.  If you choose to file for accident benefits, you need to notify the insurer within seven days of the accident and they will provide you will an Application for Benefits form which requires medical information from your physician and which must be completed within 30 days.  Depending on the extent of your injuries and the expenses arising from your accident, you may be eligible for income replacement, medical and rehabilitation expenses, non-earner benefit, education benefits and several other reimbursements.

In addition to statutory accident benefits, accident victims may also file a civil action against the person or parties at fault in causing the accident.  If the driver of the vehicle was involved in a negligent action, such as distracted driving, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or speeding, then an injured passenger may file a suit against the responsible driver.  As well, the driver in a single car accident may file a civil claim against another party who may have contributed to the accident, such as when another driver’s dangerous actions forced them off the road.  Another circumstance that may cause a collision is if the municipality or road authority failed to erect proper signage to warn drivers of a dangerous condition.  There are many other potential contributing factors in single car collisions, and an experienced personal injury lawyer is best equipped to advise you on your legal rights and options, given the unique circumstances of your accident.  

In a recent case, Deering v. Scugog (Township), a 19-year-old woman, Shannon Dearing, was driving with friends and her sister to an evening show in Whitby. She was driving up a large hill on Coates Road West when she saw the headlights of an oncoming vehicle appear over the crest of the hill. Ms. Deering moved her vehicle to the right, then lost control with the car going over the shoulder, rolling and crashing into a rock culvert.  Both Ms. Deering and her sister were severely injured; two friends also suffered major injuries; and one friend was fortunate to sustain only minor injuries.  There was no evidence or suggestion that alcohol or drugs played a role in the accident.  At the time of the accident, Coates Road West had no lane markings or signage, but the unposted speed limit was 80 km/hr as per the statutory limit.  Of note is that the speed limit was reduced to 50 km/hr three years later, in response to a Highway Traffic Act amendment.

Both the City of Oshawa and Township of Scugog had jurisdiction over the road, which was part of the boundary between the two municipalities. In the year prior to the Dearing accident, Coates Road was resurfaced and immediately re-opened while it was still unsigned, unlined and unlit. The trial arising from the Dearing accident raised serious issues of law pertaining to the duty of municipalities to keep roads in a reasonable state of repair, with due consideration to the expected driving capability of the ‘ordinary driver’. Also, the stakes for the defendant municipalities were high in this case, due to the catastrophic injuries sustained by two of the vehicle occupants.

In a determination of liability for the collision, the trial judge apportioned one third contributory liability on the part of the driver whose actions, he concluded, were below the actions of someone driving with due care.  The plaintiff was deemed to be driving at an excessive rate of speed (90 km/hr), particularly since she had no knowledge and experience of the road and also, there was an obvious need of caution coming up to the crest of the hill at night.  With respect to possible negligence on the part of the driver in the oncoming car, there was no evidence that the other driver was speeding or anywhere but on his own side of the road.

The municipalities were found to be two-thirds negligent in having caused the collision and injuries.  Scugog relied on Oshawa to complete a safety assessment as part of the road improvement project, but Oshawa failed to do so, nor did the municipality install necessary installations before re-opening the road.  The judge concluded that the road had a serious deficiency in terms of sight distance, along with a narrow shoulder, no warning about a speed reduction, and a lack of a centre line to provide guidance to drivers.  This combination of circumstances created a situation where it was only a matter of time before an accident would occur, in the opinion of the trial judge.

If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and are claiming damages, call a knowledgeable Scarborough car accident lawyer.  In a free no-obligation consultation, we can discuss the unique facts of your case and the legal options available for you to obtain owed compensation.


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