Blog Types Of At-fault Accidents In Ontario

Jun 3, 2024

A list of the most common types of at-fault accidents

Asian woman looking at damage from a car accident on a grey car

Should you admit fault in an accident? What determines who is at-fault?

These are some of the first things that go through your mind when you get into a collision.

Car accidents happen. However, whether or not you are the one at-fault and how it will impact your Ontario car insurance can be a grey area. Drivers need to and want to know more about this topic, and this blog explains the most common at-fault accidents and how fault can be determined.

Three main takeaways about at-fault accidents in Ontario:

  • Fault is determined case-by-case and involves input from your claim, the insurer and the police report.
  • Distracted driving, backing out of parking spots, lane changes, T-bone accidents, and sideswipes are the most common fault accidents.
  • Drivers may see an increase in their insurance from this type of accident, depending on their coverage.

What’s on this page

What is an at-fault accident?
How do you determine who's at fault in a car accident?
13 Most common at-fault accidents
How to prevent an at-fault accident
How do you dispute if you have been determined to be at-fault?
What happens in car accidents when a pedestrian is at-fault?
What happens if you're in a car accident with an uninsured driver not at-fault?
What do you do after an accident that is your fault?
What do you do after a car accident that is not your fault?
At-fault accidents FAQs

What is an at-fault accident?

Being at-fault is precisely as it sounds – you are the driver responsible or the cause of an accident. For example, you are the car that initiated contact or failed to stop in time. You are the cause of the collision.

Your insurer determines the amount of fault for which you are responsible. They will perform an investigation. Someone will always be found to be at-fault, whether it's fully or partially. You can be found anywhere from 0% to 100% responsible.

One thing that many drivers are unaware of is that at-fault applies to all drivers. When you lend your car to someone, you also lend that person your insurance. If the person who borrows your car has an at-fault while driving it, their accident goes on your record, and your costs could go up.

When you lend your car to someone, you also lend that person your insurance. If the person who borrows your car has an at-fault while driving it, their accident goes on your record, and your rate could go up.

How do you determine who's at fault in a car accident?

Determining fault in a car accident is a complex process that involves evaluating several important factors:

  • Traffic laws: Assigning fault is based on specific traffic laws applicable in the area where the accident occurred. Violations such as running a red light or failing to yield right-of-way can greatly impact fault determination.
  • Road and weather conditions: The condition of the road and weather at the time of the accident is crucial. Poor road conditions such as ice, rain, or debris can affect a driver's ability to control their vehicle. Drivers are expected to adjust their driving to match these conditions.
  • Role of witness statements: Independent witnesses who observed the accident provide valuable insights. Their statements can corroborate or challenge the drivers' accounts and help form a more comprehensive understanding of the incident.
  • Comparative negligence: In some cases, both parties may share responsibility, and the fault is apportioned based on each party's level of responsibility, often resulting in a percentage assignment of blame.
  • Dashboard cameras and video footage: Video footage from dashboard cameras and surveillance cameras can provide unbiased accounts of the accident's sequence. Some vehicles are equipped with event data recorders that capture data regarding vehicle speed, braking, and other parameters at the time of the accident, offering insights into the collision's dynamics.
  • Medical data: Medical information about injuries sustained, or any medical suspensions, treatment received, and any pre-existing conditions that may have influenced the accident's outcome are relevant in assessing who is at fault.

13 Most common at-fault accidents

There are many different types of car crashes and accidents that you could be involved in when driving – sideswipes, T-bones, head-on incidents, multi-car pile-ups and more. However, there is a difference between getting into an accident and being the cause of one.

In some accidents that happen on our roads, highways, parking lots and even driveways, whose fault it is not always clear cut. Here are 13 common collisions and who is potentially to blame when cars collide:

  1. Rear-end collision: Rear-ending another vehicle is typically the easiest way to determine fault in a car accident. The car that makes the initial contact is usually considered at-fault, regardless of whether the other vehicle comes to a sudden stop, stops at a traffic light, or is parked on the side of the road. If multiple cars rear-end each other, each vehicle that hits the car in front of them will usually share some of the fault.
  2. Head-on: In a head-on collision, two cars collide directly at the front of the vehicles. The driver travelling in the wrong direction is typically at-fault in a head-on crash.
  3. Side-swipe: Generally, the driver responsible for leaving their lane is at-fault in a sideswipe car accident. However, if another driver forces you out of your lane, they may also be at-fault.
  4. Rollover: Rollover crashes can be complex because there are many considerations about who caused the accident. It is possible that it was not the other driver's fault but that of numerous other parties or factors such as road conditions.
  5. Parked car: Generally, the driver who hits a legally parked car is at-fault. If you hit a parked car, consider the laws around a hit-and-run and stay at the scene.
  6. Pedestrian/cyclist: If a pedestrian is injured in a motor vehicle accident, the driver is presumed at-fault until proven otherwise. The pedestrian only needs to show that the incident negatively affected them.
  7. Single driver: In most cases, if you are involved in an accident with no other drivers, you will likely be considered at-fault. Some common single-driver accidents include causing damage to public property, crashing into a parked vehicle, hitting a tree, and hitting a pedestrian. Even if the cause is poor road conditions or you swerve to avoid an animal or obstacle, you may still be held responsible.
  8. Failure to obey traffic signs: If you fail to abide by the rules of the road, you will most likely be found at-fault. This includes running a red light, failing to signal when changing lanes, disobeying a posted traffic sign, and causing an accident with another vehicle that was following the rules of the road, regardless of who made the initial contact.
  9. Changing/merging lanes: In most situations, the vehicle making the lane change or entering a lane of traffic is at-fault. This includes changing lanes, turning into a traffic lane, merging onto the highway, and any other situation when a vehicle moves across the line.
  10. T-Bone: A T-bone accident, or side impact, can happen in many situations. It most frequently occurs at intersections. Depending on the situation, either driver could be to blame. It often comes down to which driver had the right-of-way and if a traffic violation occurred.
  11. Driving while distracted: Taking your eyes and attention off the road for any reason will make you at-fault. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents and deaths on our roadways. If you are found to have been texting, using your phone, or engaging in any activity that is deemed to be distracted driving, then you will most likely be found to be at-fault.
  12. Impaired driving: Driving while impaired will immediately qualify you to be at-fault if you are involved in an accident. These are some of the most common incidents; however, regardless of the type of accident you are involved in, you could be found to be fully or partially at-fault.

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How to prevent an at-fault accident

Preventing accidents requires responsible driving, obeying traffic laws, and regular vehicle maintenance. Here are tips to stay safe on the roads:

  • Maintaining a safe following distance is essential to prevent rear-end collisions.
  • Traffic signs, school zone signs, signals, and speed limits must be obeyed at all times.
  • Avoid texting, eating, or adjusting the radio while driving.
  • Use turn signals and check blind spots before changing lanes.
  • Defensive driving is necessary because it involves predicting the actions of other drivers.
  • It is never advisable to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Getting enough rest before long drives is important to prevent fatigue-related accidents.
  • Adjust driving behaviour according to weather conditions, and use winter tires in snowy or icy conditions.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain your vehicle to prevent mechanical failures.

How do you dispute if you have been determined to be at-fault?

You have the right to disagree with the fault determination. This is why it's so important to document everything. You can appeal the decision and state your case to your provider. All companies have an appeal process in place. A third-party mediator may also be brought in to make a final determination.

What happens in car accidents when a pedestrian is at-fault?

What happens if a pedestrian causes an accident or runs in front of your car? The same rules apply in determining fault, such as if two vehicles caused it. Your company will use the fault determination rules to assess responsibility for the incident. There are several common situations where pedestrians can be found to be at-fault, even if they are not hit by the vehicle or injured. They include:

  • Crossing in the middle of the road.
  • Jaywalking.
  • Crossing against traffic signals.

What happens if you're in a car accident with an uninsured driver not at-fault?

Being involved in an accident is bad enough. But, getting into an accident that is not your fault and with an uninsured driver can complicate things.

The good news is you are covered. All policies in Ontario include uninsured automobile coverage. This protects you in instances you are involved in an accident with someone who is driving without insurance. You will deal directly with your provider, and they will compensate you for damage and medical costs.

grey car with damage from an accident

What do you do after an accident that is your fault?

Once you ensure everyone is okay at the accident scene, file a police report, take your vehicle to the reporting centre, and contact your insurance company. Don’t admit fault.

If you are found to be at-fault, expect a change in premium or possible denial when it is time for your car insurance renewal. If you have an accident on your record, it’s more important than ever to browse rates to find coverage and keep costs down. If your policy has accident forgiveness, you may not see any impact from the claim.

What do you do after a car accident that is not your fault?

You must still file a claim if you are involved in a not-at-fault accident. The claims process works the same as if you are responsible. You report your accident at your local reporting centre, notify your agent or advisor, and complete the required paperwork.

At-fault accidents FAQs

Determining fault becomes more complex when more than two vehicles are involved, such as multi-vehicle accidents.

There are many factors at play in an intersection accident. Whether or not the light was red, a driver was turning left; traffic violations occurred, and more need to be considered to assign fault.

Tire blowouts happen all the time. In general, your policy does not cover tires. A blowout may or may not be considered an accident, especially if no other vehicles are involved. The nature of the blowout will also be considered – it could be caused by debris or a manufacturer defect. Fault is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Limit your chances of being at-fault for an accident

By practicing safe driving and limiting your distractions, you can lower the chances of being at-fault for an accident. Of course, not all collisions can be prevented, and you should always have your car insurance up to date.