Liability for Faulty Road Design
Nineteen year-old Shannon Deering was on her way to the movies with her sixteen year-old sister and a group of friends on the evening of August 10, 2004. She was driving on a very hilly road that had been resurfaced three weeks earlier. The road should have had a centreline but the municipalities responsible for the road had not got around to putting one down. As Shannon drove up a steep hill, the road bent slightly to the right. Because there was no centreline Shannon could not perceive the bend in to the road. An oncoming vehicle crested the hill and Shannon thought it was coming right at her. She steered sharply right to avoid a collision and lost control. Shannon and her sister both suffered spinal cord injuries.
Our firm took the case to trial. The trial Judge found the municipalities liable for not putting down the centreline and for not reducing the speed limit from 80 km per hour on such a hilly road.
A municipality is exposed to liability when it permits a road to be in a condition that is unsafe for drivers exercising ordinary care. Where a crash is caused by such an unsafe condition, the municipality is liable unless it can prove that it took reasonable steps to prevent the unsafe condition from existing.
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