Rear-End Collisions and Liability
As we all know here in Canada, we are sometimes prone to severe winter conditions which can be quite tasking on drivers." Slower speeds and snow tires are just a few of the added precautions that many take in order to be safer on the road." However, accidents still occur and liability still has to be assessed and assigned. The court case of (Iannarella v. Corbett, 2015 ONCA 110) addresses such an incident and the evidentiary battle that followed. In the early evening hours of February 2008, Mr. Corbett was driving a concrete mixer truck in a low gear in stop and go traffic." The winter weather conditions were not favorable and drivers were traveling at a reduced speed because of this. " As he was about to change gears to speed up a bit, there was a gust of snow which diminished Mr. Corbett's visibility to nothing." After hesitating for second, his reaction was to slam on the brakes in an effort to stop his vehicle." The vehicle however did not stop immediately and slid right into the rear of a pickup truck being driven by a Mr. Iannarella, who alleges serious and continuous injury as a result. The initial trial judge in this case felt that liability had not been proven; that Mr. Corbett was not negligent in his actions at the time of the accident." He felt that the defendant did all that was required of him under the circumstances and did not exacerbate the issues surrounding the accident in any way. Mr. Iannarella asserts that the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury on the procedures surrounding the Onus of Proof as it pertains to rear-end accidents. The instruction from" O'Brien's Jury Charges" summarizes that the two main issues to be addressed when assessing the burden of proof in rear end collusion is:
- Whether or not the driver was visually sensitive to the situation (was able to see any upcoming hazards)
- Whether or not he was keeping the appropriate speed that the weather conditions dictated." If there is no obvious reason for the collision, the onus is on the driver of the offending vehicle to prove that he was sufficiently prudent in his efforts to avoid the rear-end collision.
- A driver should remain at a safe distance when driving behind another vehicle; allowing for enough stopping distance if necessary.
- A driver should be more alert and vigilant for any hazards (other vehicles or any other obstruction)
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