Pedestrian Accident Fatalities In Toronto On The Rise

By Michelle Arzaga | February 7, 2014

Toronto personal injury lawyer Michelle Arzaga: Thanks to today’s technology, cars have never been more enjoyable and convenient for drivers. GPS, video cameras, televisions, satellite radio, cell phone hook-ups, and more. The problem is, all of the gadgets lead to distracted drivers. This is bad news for pedestrians, whose chances of being involved in a pedestrian car accident are increasing:

In 2013, 40 pedestrians died in traffic collisions in Toronto, up from 24 killed in 2012 and 18 in 2011. By contrast, just seven drivers died in collisions last year, the same number as 2012.

The streets are scarier for people on foot than for people in cars. Pedestrians, says Const. Clinton Stibbe of Traffic Services, must not assume that a driver will stop when they press the crosswalk light.

“The amber light is no different than the amber light at an intersection,” he explains. “The car only has to stop when it it safe to do so.

“Some people aren’t paying attention. Drivers are on their cellphones or have dropped something in their lap. You can’t assume that people see you. Make eye contact. As a pedestrian you are always at the losing end of a collision.”

With more and more pedestrians at risk of being injured by distracted drivers, it’s important for pedestrians to know what support and compensation is afforded to them under the law if they are injured by a motorist.
The law recognizes the vulnerable position pedestrians have vis-a-vis motorists. Section 193(1) of the Highway Traffic Act reads:

When loss or damage is sustained by any person by reason of a motor vehicle on a highway, the onus of proof that the loss or damage did not arise through the negligence or improper conduct of the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle is upon the owner, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle.

This is known as reverse onus. A motorist who impacts a pedestrian is presumed negligent until the motorist can produce evidence that they acted reasonably and properly in the circumstances.
Reverse Onus

Under reverse onus, pedestrians are not required to prove their lack of negligence, or even prove that the motorist was negligent. That negligence is already presumed under the law. Injured pedestrians only need to prove that 1) they were injured by a motor vehicle and 2) the collision caused their injuries and any damages flowing from those injuries.Reverse onus does not mean that pedestrians can cross any roadway wherever and however they want, thereby assuming that the motorist who hits them will be found completely negligent. There are certainly cases where the courts have found some liability on the pedestrian for having some part in causing the collision.

When can the pedestrian be found negligent?
In those cases where liability for the collision is split between the pedestrian and the motorist, the courts have considered such things as whether or not the pedestrian was crossing at a designated crosswalk, or if they were jaywalking. Accordingly, courts will apply a higher duty of care to motorists who strike pedestrians who cross at designated crosswalks, while jaywalkers can expect to bear some responsibility for their actions.
In cases involving pedestrians who cross the roadway outside of a crosswalk, the court will consider whether the motorist could have or should have seen the pedestrian in time to avoid the collision. Other factors that have been considered by the court in apportioning liability include whether the pedestrian was keeping a proper lookout when they crossed the street, or if the pedestrian acted without reasonable care for his or her own safety. Each case will be assessed on the facts if liability is disputed.
Compensation for injuries
Pedestrians who are injured in motor vehicle accidents have access to compensation for their damages, as well as loss of income. They receive this compensation from their own auto insurer or the auto insurer of the motorist. If the pedestrian has no auto insurance of their own, they can access benefits and compensation from the at-fault motorist’s insurer. Families of pedestrians who are injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident can also make a claim for benefits, suing for wrongful death and the loss of care, guidance and companionship that the pedestrian provided to them while alive.

If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident, be sure to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Such cases can be complex. You will need guidance in order to secure the full compensation you deserve.Michelle Arzaga is a personal injury lawyer with Pace Law Firm in Toronto. You can contact her toll free at 1-877-236-3060. Pace’s personal injury lawyers have been helping accident victims since 1980.