The Province Is Investigating Joint and Several Liability - How Will This Impact Victims Whose Accidents Involve Municipalities? The new Ontario Government will be reviewing legislation
February 04, 2019, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
The Province Is Investigating Joint and Several Liability - How Will This Impact Victims Whose Accidents Involve Municipalities?
The new Ontario Government will be reviewing legislation which has been raised by Ontario Municipalities as problematic. The legislation concerns the protection of injured people and their rights to compensation.
The specific issue of concern is Joint and Several Liability in accidents involving municipalities. Currently when an individual is injured, and more than one party is at fault in an accident those at fault are equally responsible to pay out the total amount of damages owing to the person harmed. It is common for there to be more than one person at fault in car accidents, and it is not uncommon for the at-fault driver to be inadequately insured to cover the victim’s damages.
Municipalities are objecting to having to pay injured party’s damages above the at-fault driver’s insurance when they are found to be partly at fault as well. Municipalities are objecting on the basis that they are paying out money simply by virtue of being sued along with at-fault parties. This is false information being spread by municipalities as they are only required to pay out to injured persons when the municipality is found to be partly at fault in the accident. Without being at fault, they cannot be held liable, and they are not paying out settlements.
Municipalities are claiming that they have rising insurance premiums and deductibles which are contributing to higher tax rates for the ratepayers. They have not, however, provided any evidence that this is true. It would appear that they are really trying to establish special protections against having to accept liability in cases where they have done something wrong.
All injured parties carry the burden of proof that the municipality was at fault when they make a claim. The bar is set high and establishing municipal liability can be a challenge. Municipalities already have special protections in lawsuits:
- Public policy reasons can be used to eliminate otherwise owed ‘duty of care’ to injured victims even when the municipality is at fault. Public policy decisions can include things like budgetary constraints.
- Rules of notice of an injury are much more restrictive in cases involving municipalities. Injured parties must inform municipalities within 10 days of an injury. In most other civil matters the time limit to file a notice of claim is two years. That’s a substantive difference.
- Minimum maintenance standards, not a reasonable state of repair, are what need to be met by the municipality.
- The absence or presence of insufficient walls, barriers or fences is not reasonable cause for injured parties to bring lawsuits against municipalities.
- The only way to hold municipalities responsible for personal injury from snow and ice on sidewalks is if gross negligence is established.
The proposed changes to the law will create a systemic unfairness to people injured whose claims exceed the insured amounts when the accidents occur in situations when the municipality is held partly at fault. This will result in victims going without compensation to pay for their injury rehab, further straining the public system, and leaving many without adequate treatment and compensation.
Robert Deutschmann is an ontario car accident lawyer.
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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.
It is important that you review your accident benefit file with one of our experienced personal injury / car accident lawyers to ensure that you obtain access to all your benefits which include, but are limited to, things like physiotherapy, income replacement benefits, vocational retraining and home modifications.