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Questions of Fault

In an accident, questions of fault often come up. While your own insurance company is obliged to help you even if you are entirely at fault, insurance companies representing other parties in your accident don't have to help you if their client is not responsible for your injuries.

Who Was At Fault?

In some cases, this is not an easy question to answer. For example,

  • Premises liability: There may be a number of different people involved in a particular property. The owner of the property, the manager, the maintenance staff, the snowplowers — all may be responsible for keeping it safe.
  • Product liability: Your injuries may be blamed on the designers, manufacturers, vendors, or marketers of whatever caused you harm.
  • Medical malpractice: It may be difficult to trace the source of your injury to a particular doctor, nurse or pharmacist. The hospital itself may be found partially responsible.
  • Automobile accident: Questions often revolve around whether either driver was speeding or made a driving error. In rear-end cases, this can be even more complicated. In the case of drunk driving, bars may be found responsible for preventing patrons from drinking and driving.

How Responsible Is the Supposedly At-Fault Party?

This isn't always easy to answer. For example:

In premises liability, it's sometimes difficult to tell exactly what is expected in terms of "keeping premises safe." It may depend on what kind of premises they are. Schools, playgrounds, bars, nursing homes and empty lots will probably have different standards of what is considered "safe."

For medical malpractice, this can get particularly tricky, as we often have to consult other medical professionals to determine what a reasonable professional would do in the same situation.

Your Own Responsibility

If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist struck by a motor vehicle and you were jaywalking, intoxicated, or wearing dark clothing on a dark street, you may be held partly responsible for your accident.

Similarly, if you were speeding while driving, or you were not paying attention to your surroundings when you slipped and fell, you may also be found partially at fault.

It's not the end of the world if you are partially responsible. It may mean that your compensation may be lower, but it does not mean that you will get nothing at all.

Contact Bergeron Clifford LLP

Our lawyers can answer your questions about fault. Contact us at 877-391-2923 or fill out our online form, and come in and talk to us at our Ottawa, Kingston, Whitby, Perth or other Eastern Ontario offices. We can meet you elsewhere if that's more convenient for you.