In a recent Ontario case the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a trial judge’s finding of negligence resulting in a $12 million award to a woman whose car lost control on an icy roadway causing the vehicle to collide with an oncoming school bus.
The Court of Appeal held that whilst the road had been cleared three hours before the accident, falling snow had made the salting ineffectual. The road clearing regimen was found to be in violation of the municipality’s own policy of requiring plowing and sanding every two hours in stormy weather. The trial court’s analysis was that the municipality’s failure to maintain the roadway for over three hours resulted in snow-packed and slippery road conditions. The Court of Appeal agreed, saying that it was reasonably foreseeable that such road conditions would arise, and that the municipality’s failure to respond to such a risk made the municipality solely liable for the loss of control of the vehicle on the icy roadway, and the injuries that were subsequently suffered by the plaintiff in the crash.
Given the well-known, poor winter driving conditions and numerous accidents on B.C.’s Coquihalla Highway, highway maintenance companies and contractors would do well to keep this Ontario Court of Appeal decision in the forefront of their minds.
Read the full Ontario Court of Appeal decision: Belanger v. Sudbury (Regional Municipality), 2017 ONCA 428
If you have been injured in a single vehicle road accident due to what may be poor or inadequate maintenance of a highway, contact Paul G. Kent to discuss your potential claim.