Why Fault Matters in Your Alberta Personal Injury Case

The determination of fault is one of the issues that will take front and center in your personal injury case. It will determine whether you can recover funds in a claim, and it will determine how much of the claim you can cover.


Your personal injury lawyer’s job will be, in part, to reduce the amount of “fault” that gets assigned to you.


Can you recover at all?


You can recover funds as long as you are less than 51% responsible for your car, truck, or motorcycle accident. If you are more than 51% at fault you are likely to be the defendant in a case rather than the plaintiff, at which point your insurance company’s lawyers would step in to defend your case.


If our personal injury lawyers agree to take your case we will do so after evaluating the facts. This will tell us if you are less than 51% at fault and whether the case is worth pursuing for you and for us.


How much will you recover?


Alberta is a comparative negligence province, which means that your award amount will be reduced by whatever percentage of fault is assigned for you.


For example, if you receive an $100,000 award and are then assigned 30% fault, you’ll only receive $70,000.


Thus, the facts of the case can go into hot dispute. Assigning more fault to your actions is one of the strongest defenses that the other driver will have to dispute your case and defend their actions.


Proving Fault


The inevitable dispute over fault determination is one reason why we tell people to be careful what they say at the scene of the accident it self. “I’m sorry” is a very human thing to say after a collision, but it all but admits 100% responsibility for an accident. It’s also why we encourage people who have been in a car accident to take pictures and gather contact information when they can.

You should also avoid signing any statements regarding fault. Someone may ask you to, and if you do your case is as good as over. You should also avoid paying or promising to pay for any damages at the scene of the accident, even if you think you might be at fault. Let the process resolve itself.


Eventually we’ll examine police reports, and those may also come with witness contact information that we can take advantage of.


We may also try to get our hands on traffic camera footage which might show us whether there was a clear violation of traffic law. Violations of traffic law tend to make the fault determination far more clear cut. Rear-ends and left turns are another instance where fault is usually easy to determine.


Other accidents are less clear-cut. It will take more effort to reconstruct them and to determine who should be treated as the at-fault party. It may even take help from an expert accident reconstructionist.


In every case you’ll want a strong legal team working to support you. Get help today by scheduling your free consultation.

About Donald I.M. Outerbridge

Donald became the Executive Director of Merchant Law Group LLP starting in 1993, nearly 30 years ago. His experience managing law firms at various levels and in multiple provinces across Canada goes back even further to 1981.