Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise in Toronto and the GTA

Edited by Admin
Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise in Toronto and the GTA
Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise in Toronto and the GTA

The Globe & Mail recently reported that the number of pedestrian accidents in Toronto and the GTA has reached new levels. On average this year, a pedestrian was struck by a car once every four hours. Pedestrian deaths have increased by 15% since 2011, and hundreds of people have sustained injuries, both major and minor. Mayor John Tory admits that the problem of pedestrians being struck by motor vehicles “has received less attention than it should.” The newspaper labelled the problem “an increasingly urgent public safety matter.”


In Toronto, many factors contribute to pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents. Our winters are long, and dark – and the “fall back” policy during Daylight Savings Time can exacerbate this problem. We also get weather: reduced visibility due to fog, snow, or rain can hinder drivers’ ability to see pedestrians. Traffic congestion in general has increased in recent years, and bicycle lanes, street festivals, charity runs, parades, or events such as sports games or concerts sometimes create increased congestion and confusion on Toronto’s major arteries. In some areas of the GTA there are long stretches between pedestrian crossings, which means that people are inclined to jaywalk.


The majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court. However, sometimes a court case is necessary. There is a “reverse onus” provision in section 193(1) of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. For all practical purposes, this means that in our province, the motorist is essentially “guilty until proven innocent” if they hit a pedestrian. This provision helps to ensure that drivers, whose vehicles have the potential to cause death or severe injuries, will strive to be as aware as possible of pedestrians in their path.


Drivers are often clearly responsible. Inattention due to texting while driving has caused a bump in accidents of all kinds. Drivers may also be fumbling with GPS systems, or dealing with distractions such as children or food. They may be overtired, or their judgement may be impaired by alcohol or drugs.



However, sometimes there are mitigating factors. Pedestrians, too, may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many times pedestrians step off the curb without checking for traffic; sometimes they jaywalk and misjudge how much time they have to cross. Many of these types of accidents involve elderly pedestrians who may have slow reflexes or problems with their eyesight. And sometimes people act without consideration -- someone chases an escaped dog into traffic, for example.


In law, the term used to ascribe responsibility for pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents is “contributory negligence.” When a pedestrian-motor vehicle case goes to court, the judge may decide to award full damages to the pedestrian, assigning responsibility to the driver. Or the judge may decide that the motorist was not at fault, and award no damages. However, a judge often splits the liability. When liability is split, it means that the damages awarded to the pedestrian are also split.


For example, in an accident where the driver was judged to be completely at fault, a pedestrian who was badly injured could receive an award of $2 million. However, in another situation, a victim with the same injuries could go to court and the judge may decide that the driver and the pedestrian were equally responsible for the accident. This means that the liability is 50/50 – and therefore the award will be cut in half, leaving the plaintiff with $1 million. From that amount, the plaintiff will have to pay legal fees, taxes, and other expenses. In addition, the plaintiff may have to pay a percentage of the defendant’s expenses.


If you or a family member has suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, you know that the results of an accident can be devastating. You may be unable to work, for example, or unable to enjoy leisure activities you once pursued. Your relationships may also be impaired. Sometimes recovery is slow and painful. Although monetary compensation cannot make up for physical or emotional trauma, having enough funds to live on can remove one stressor from an accident victim’s life.


Because of all of the issues involved, it’s wise to get a lawyer’s counsel as soon after the accident as possible. Sokoloff Lawyers are experienced in personal injury law, and will be able to assess your case and advise you and your family on the best course of action.



Sokoloff Lawyers is renowned in Toronto for many reasons, including the fact that staff can speak over thirty different languages, and are usually able to assist accident victims in their mother tongue. (Additional translators will be supplied as needed.) Another reason to choose the firm is that, should your case go to trial, Sokoloff Lawyers has the experience and expertise necessary to do that. Our lawyers will take the time to hear your side, and will work to achieve the best possible outcome.


If you or a family member has been injured in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident, you’ll want Sokoloff Lawyers on your side.