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      Is the Driver of the Car Always at Fault in an Accident Involving a Bicycle?

      When there is a collision involving a motor vehicle and a bicyclist, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act presumes negligence against the motorist in accordance to the civil liability provisions. In short, a cyclist, as an operator of a bicycle without a motor, is treated the same way as a pedestrian.

      The history of the section was intended to protect pedestrians who were struck by vehicles, sometimes unknown, who could not establish negligence against a driver. The “onus” as it is often referred to means that the driver of a motor vehicle must cite evidence that the accident occurred without negligence on their part. The court must consider all of the evidence and weigh it, considering the onus.
      As such, when a cyclist is struck by a motor vehicle, the cyclist begins with the statutory onus, and the burden shifts to the motorist. The judge and or jury would look at all of the evidence and see if the onus has been discharged by the driver. Typically, the jury would be instructed on standard questions of the onus by the trial judge.

      A finding by the court that the driver did discharge the onus would result in a dismissal of the case against the driver. However, a finding that the driver failed to discharge the onus could lead to the driver being found completely responsible, or partially responsible. The court would apply the Negligence Act of Ontario to apportion liability.

      In cases where the motorist cannot be found or identified, it becomes difficult for a defendant to discharge the onus. Like any motor vehicle accident, witnesses are crucial to bicycle accidents. As due to the differential weights in a bicycle and vehicle, property damage estimates are not reliable to show the force of a collision. As well, cyclists are often thrown some distance from the point of impact.

      As well, due to the vulnerability of a cyclist, head injuries are common, and the cyclist memory may be impaired from the accident. As such, the onus against the driver works to protect the cyclist.

      Suffering a serious injury on the road often leaves a person in dire financial straits and physically damaged. If you find yourself in this stressful situation, it makes sense to retain the services of an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help ensure that your personal injury claim is managed effectively. To find out more about your rights after an accident, contact the experienced personal injury lawyer today.

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