Who is responsible in a weather-related car crash? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Who is responsible in a weather-related car crash?


Heavy rainfall, snow and ice are only a few of the weather hazards experienced by Ontario motorists. Poor visibility or dangerous road conditions are no excuse when vehicles collide and cause property damage or personal injuries. The weather might be a convenient excuse, but the law places the responsibility for avoiding accidents on drivers.

The law of negligence and car accidents

Ontario drivers are required to engage in safe and responsible practices when behind the wheel of their vehicles, including:

  • Obey the traffic laws
  • Keep a proper lookout for other vehicles, pedestrians and others using the roads and highways
  • Maintain control over your vehicle to avoid collisions
  • Signal when you change lanes and make turns to let other drivers know your intentions
  • Anticipate hazards and dangerous situations and be prepared to take appropriate action to avoid accidents and collisions with other vehicles

Drivers who fail to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner could be liable in the event of an accident under the general principles of tort law. Proving that a driver acted in a negligent manner requires proof of the following:

  • A legal duty owed to the other party. In the case of a car accident, this would be the duty of every driver to safely and responsibly operate the vehicle.
  • A breach of the legal duty by one or more motorists involved in an accident.
  • Physical harm or injury caused to someone as a result of the breach of duty.
  • Damages suffered by the victim.
  • The victim’s harm or injuries were proximately caused by the conduct of the party sought to be held responsible.

When weather affects visibility or traction, it does not relieve a driver from his or her duty to engage in safe and responsible driving practices.

Weather and its effect on driving

Bad weather at any time of the year can create hazardous driving conditions. Drivers must exercise extreme care and caution depending upon the effect they have on roadway and visibility conditions. Some of the common effects of weather on driving conditions include the following:

  • Fog: Driving through fog is extremely dangerous because your visibility could be limited to only a couple of metres in front of your vehicle. If reducing your speed does not help, you might be better off delaying your trip until the fog clears.
  • Rain: Rain mixing with the oils vehicles leave on road surfaces can make it difficult to maintain traction. Heavy rain can cause hydroplaning, which occurs when your tires ride on the water on the road and lose contact with the pavement. If this occurs, slow down to allow your tires to maintain contact with the road. Rain can also decrease visibility, so slowing down is the safe and prudent way to ensure you can stop in time to avoid hitting another vehicle, pedestrian or object on the road.
  • Snow and ice: In addition to making the roadways slippery, ice or heavy snow can obscure visibility. Slow down and use extra caution when accelerating, braking and steering your vehicle.

It’s not a weather pattern, but nighttime driving requires motorists to take extra care and adjust their driving techniques. The headlights of your vehicle might offer the only illumination of the roadway and potential hazards, but their range is limited. You should adjust the speed at which you travel to make it possible to safely bring your vehicle to a complete stop if you spot a hazard, such as a pedestrian or another vehicle, ahead of you.

Ontario personal injury lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation for individuals suffering injuries caused by the negligence of others. If you have been injured in a weather-related accident, you should speak to one of our lawyers. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims throughout Ontario.

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