The warmer springtime weather means more people will be enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. Ontario cities and suburban areas offer the perfect combination of high traffic volume and people walking and jogging to pose a high risk of pedestrian accidents and injuries. When pedestrians are hit by motor vehicles, it is the pedestrian who suffers the most serious injuries. It is essential for people to know their rights and how to protect and assert them if they are ever injured in a pedestrian accident.
Pedestrian accidents are frequent occurrences
The deaths of 11 pedestrians as a result of being struck by motor vehicles in Toronto in less than three months at the beginning of this year has city officials searching for ways to make the streets safer. It is not, however, a problem isolated to one city. Pedestrian accidents are on the rise throughout Ontario and across the country.
People hit by a car, truck or other motor vehicle frequently suffer multiple injuries, including:
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Broken bones
- Head injuries including concussions and traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Contusions and bruises
- Internal injuries
Due to the seriousness of the injuries suffered by pedestrians struck by motor vehicles, fatalities frequently occur.
Changing the law to protect pedestrians
Ontario changed its law pertaining to pedestrian crossovers two years ago to give pedestrians greater protection when crossing the street. A crosswalk is a marked path pedestrians use to cross a street at intersections. Crossovers are also marked pathways for pedestrians to cross the street, but unlike crosswalks, crossovers have flashing lights activated by buttons people press before crossing. The buttons activate the lights to alert drivers that a pedestrian is about to cross.
Prior law required drivers to stop at crossovers and crosswalks when pedestrians were present and not move until the person had safely crossed the motorist’s lane. The new law changes the rule for drivers at crossovers. Drivers must stop for pedestrians using a crossover, but they cannot move forward until the pedestrian has made it to the opposite side of the street. This new rule also applies to school crossings and other locations where there is a crossing guard assigned.
The change in the law applied to drivers of motor vehicles and to people riding bicycles. Violation of the law is penalized by a fine up to $500 and demerit points.
Changing the burden of proof
As a general rule, the person claiming to have suffered an injury due to the negligence of the driver of a motor vehicle would have the burden of producing evidence in court to prove the negligence. This is no longer the rule when the injured party is a pedestrian.
The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario places a burden on the drivers to prove the absence of negligence or improper conduct on their part when the victim is a pedestrian. The inability of a driver to prove they acted reasonably does not guarantee an injured pedestrian will recover compensation.
Negligent behaviour on the part of the pedestrian could defeat a claim for damages. For instance, a pedestrian who is texted on a cellphone and starts crossing a street while vehicles have a green light could be deemed to be negligent and responsible in whole or in part for causing the accident.
Ontario personal injury lawyers
The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling compensation claims for people injured through the negligence of other parties. Call their 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit their website to speak to someone now. They offer free consultations and case evaluations to injured victims throughout Ontario.