Contributory Negligence in Alberta Car Accidents - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Contributory Negligence in Alberta Car Accidents

When car accidents happen, it is not uncommon for people to get hurt. Many of them need the help of a car accident personal injury lawyer to recover the cost of being treated. As well as seek compensation for the money they have lost because they are unable to work as normal. In particular if the injury is likely to have a long-term effect on their lives.

To be able to build a strong case, your lawyer will need to establish who was responsible for the accident. In other words, whose negligent actions led to someone getting hurt. If you want to learn more about how fault is determined in car accident cases, just read our in-depth guide.

What is Contributory Negligence?

Sometimes the victims themselves can be found to be partially at fault. This gives rise to something called contributory negligence, which can make a case more complicated.

Understandably, it is in the interests of the other party to prove that you were at least partly to blame for what happened. This enables them to say that you were responsible for your injuries and, therefore, the negative consequences arising from them. So, if for example you are travelling in the back and not wearing your seatbelt and hit the driver´s seat you could be deemed to be partially responsible for your injuries.

Alberta Law on Contributory Negligence

In Alberta, contributory negligence is governed by the Contributory Negligence Act. It states that if more than one individual has contributed to loss or damage, the responsibility for damages will be divided between those said individuals.

This is done in proportion to the degree in which each person is at fault. Apportioning liability like this helps to ensure that everyone takes responsibility for their actions. However, sometimes it is not possible to measure and quantify blame. That is why the act says that if the degree cannot be ascertained, liability has to be apportioned equally among the persons at fault.

How Degree of Fault is Determined in Contributory Negligence

Alberta courts are the ones that determine the degree of fault. They do that by considering the victim’s actions immediately before, during and, to some extent, after the accident.

The court considers if they were in a fit state to drive prior to the incident. Then what they did during the accident and finally whether they have sought the right treatment for their injuries and followed the medical advice given.

Here are some examples of contributory negligence in car accidents:

  • The victim did not fasten a seatbelt
  • They were driving over the speed limit
  • The victim was distracted while driving
  • The person who was injured was intoxicated
  • The victim failed to follow traffic rules and regulations
  • The victim hit the brakes suddenly or at an inappropriate point
  • The victim did not hit the brakes soon enough
  • The victim did not take the correct and reasonable steps to avoid the accident
  • The victim was driving a vehicle of a type they were not qualified to drive
  • The vehicle the victim was driving was not properly maintained e.g. it had balding tires

It is important that you are honest with your lawyer when briefing them about what happened during the accident. Trying to hide the fact that you were not wearing a seatbelt will not help your case at all. That fact will emerge in court. If your lawyer does not know about it, they will not have had a chance to build a defence that proves this action did not contribute to the seriousness of your particular injuries.

Contributory negligence can significantly impact the amount of compensation you can receive. To fully understand its complications, consult with an Alberta car accident lawyer from Diamond & Diamond.

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“The law on contributory negligence can sometimes be tricky, so it’s always best to clarify with a personal injury lawyer first.”

FAQs on Contributory Negligence in Alberta Car Accidents

I accepted a ride with a friend driver whom I didn’t know had been drinking, is that contributory negligence on my part?

If you did not know that the driver had been drinking before you got in the car with them, there is no case for contributory negligence. However, if witnesses saw you visiting a bar together or attending a party, it could be argued that you did in fact know. Should the court agree that was the case, you would end up being considered to be contributorily negligent.

I panicked and made some unsure decisions during the car accident, is that contributory negligence on my part?

Whether the mistakes you made during the car accident are considered to be contributorily negligent depends on the circumstances. If you make a mistake, even while under stress, you may still be judged as being fully responsible for that error. But another court may take a more lenient view and conclude that no driver could be expected to respond perfectly during an accident like yours.

I just got inside my car and hadn’t had time to fasten my seat belt yet and then my car got hit, is that contributory negligence?

In those circumstances, contributory negligence would not apply. But it would if you had driven away, even just a few inches. You are expected to be wearing your seatbelt at that point. Likewise, if you were stopped in traffic, took your belt off to reach back for something and were hit, you may be considered to be partially responsible for the seriousness of your injuries.

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