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Inevitable Accidents

September 9, 2019  |  By:  Karen Vigmond

What is an inevitable or unavoidable accident?

An inevitable accident is one that was not intended, and which, under all the circumstances, could not have been foreseen or prevented by the exercise of reasonable precautions. It is a defence to a claim for negligence. For example, is an accident ‘inevitable’ where a car causes a collision because the driver lost control due to ice or snow on the roadway or they hit a heavy patch of fog? The answer will most likely be no and the driver will be found at fault.

A reasonable driver is expected to take poor weather, road and driving conditions into account when operating a vehicle. A failure to do so results in negligence and not a claim of inevitable accident. Therefore, it is imperative that when presented with poor road or weather conditions, you adjust your driving, slow down and leave more space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

What happens if someone has a heart attack or loses consciousness while driving and causes an accident? Could they be found at fault? The answer is yes. A motorist has a duty to make sure that he or she is in a proper state of health to operate a vehicle and must not expose other people to the risk or possibility that something could happen that would impair his or her ability to control their vehicle. For example, if a person who suffered a heart attack while driving had symptoms beforehand that would cause a reasonable person concern over their ability to operate a vehicle, they could be found at fault.

Driving is a privilege, not a right. It is a huge responsibility. As such, the defence of inevitable accident is rarely successful. There is a high obligation placed on drivers to ensure they adjust their driving when necessary and ensure they feel fit to drive when they get behind the wheel.


About the Author

Karen Vigmond

Karen joined Oatley Vigmond in 2013 as an associate lawyer. She holds a BA from Queen’s University and her Juris Doctor from Bond University in Australia. Prior to being called to the Bar in...

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