What to Expect For Fault Determination in Common Accidents
Deciding who is at fault after a car accident is often cut and dry… but “often” does not equate to “always”. Determining fault in some accidents can be quite complex. Some of the most common accident scenarios almost always result in the same fault determination, based on the fault determination rules either of the province or of the insurance company. Here are a few examples of common accident scenarios and how fault is determined in each.
Scenario #1: The Rear-End Collision
Maybe a child runs into the road in front of you. Maybe someone rolls through a stop sign necessitating you to slam on your brakes to avoid hitting them. Whatever the reason, if you brake suddenly and the car behind you doesn’t stop in time and hits back of your car, the driver behind you is going to be at fault. Even though a child entering the road caused you to brake unexpectedly may seem to be the blame, in this situation the driver behind you will be found at fault. In fact, rear-end collisions are almost always the fault of the driver who strikes the other car from behind. Drivers are expected to allow enough stopping time and distance to safely stop without striking the car in front.
Scenario #2: Two Turns, One Fault
You drive up on an intersection where the light is red. You stop, put on your right turn signal, and make a right turn on red, which is legal. Just as you start to turn, an oncoming car makes a left turn on an advanced green arrow and hits your vehicle. While a right turn on red is legal, the car making a left turn on a green arrow has the right-of-way. In this case, the driver turning right on red will usually be found at fault for the accident. One of the most important things when making a right turn on red is being aware of which lane currently has the green light and thus the right-of-way. When you proceed to make the turn, you should be certain it is safe to do so.
Scenario #3: Backing Up Blind
Let’s say you’re leaving a parking space in a busy lot, but you’re having trouble seeing because there is a large black SUV parked next to you. You can’t see the vehicle coming down the lane and back into its bumper. Even though your visibility when backing out of the parking space was affected by the large vehicle next to you, you will likely still be found at fault in this situation. Whenever a car leaves a parked location and enters the flow of traffic, that car must yield the right-of-way to those already driving. Backing up very slowly out of a situation where visibility is limited might take some time, but it is necessary to ensure you can proceed safely.
Scenario #4: Icy Intersection Collision
You’re stopped at a red light on a bad winter’s day the light turns green you proceed into the intersection, just as a vehicle coming the other way slides on a patch of ice and goes right through the red light, hitting your car. When it comes to deciding who is at fault, winter weather will not affect the outcome. The driver who entered the intersection on a red light will be held at fault for the accident even though the ice played a role. Drivers are expected to be prepared for ice on the roads during winter by driving more slowly and allowing more stopping time and distance.
Scenario #5: The One-Car Collision
This one seems pretty obvious, but you may be surprised by the number of drivers involved in one-vehicle crashes who don’t think the accident was their “fault”, but rather they are victims of circumstance. Let’s say you are driving in an unfamiliar area and don’t see your next turn at the last minute. Instead of driving by and turning around, you make a last-ditch effort to slow and make the turn, overshoot and end up in someone’s yard, knocking down a portion their fence. No one is hurt, and your car is the only one involved. Any time you strike property without any other car being involved in an accident, you are found at fault. Failure to take the turn carefully in this situation is the reason for the accident. When you miss a turn, it’s best to simply turn around at the next available location and come back to make the turn safely, rather than risking a crash.