As a driver nothing is more frustrating than not knowing what other drivers or pedestrians are going to do. Many cities are trying to “go green” and are encouraging people to walk, ride a bike or use other green methods of transportation.  While this is great for the environment it also means that drivers are sharing the road with more people and more bicycles.  Many drivers believe that when cyclists are sharing highways and roads with cars that they are supposed to act as motorists. What most people don’t realize is that, pursuant to motor vehicle accident law, bicycles are considered pedestrians.

Why is this important? 

The simplest answer is found in Section 193(1) of the Highway Traffic Act which creates a “reverse onus” in favor of pedestrians.

What is a “reverse onus”?

A reverse onus simply means that if there is a law suit started as a result of an incident involving a bicycle the normal burden of proof will be reversed.  In a traditional car to car accident the person who decides to sue (the Plaintiff) another person is required to prove that the person they are suing was negligent or caused the damage.

In a car/bicycle accident the reverse onus applies, so the person being sued (the Defendant) must prove that they were not in any way negligent.  The burden of proof is reversed.

Why should I care?

If you are driving a car and are in an accident with a cyclist, you, as the driver of the car, will be required to prove to a court of law that you were following the letter of the law and did not cause the accident.

With warmer weather around the corner, you will surely be faced with a situation where you are required to share the road with a bicycle. Whenever this happens it is worth taking an extra few minutes to proceed with caution and decrease the chances of an accident occurring.

For more information on your rights as a motorist and/or cyclist, or should you have any questions about the issues discussed above or any potential personal injury matter, please feel free to contact me directly.

Teena Belland

Associate with the Personal Injury and Litigation Group

Disclaimer: This article is provided as an information resource. This article should not be relied upon to make decisions and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified legal professional. In all cases, contact your legal professional for advice on any matter referenced in this document before making decisions. Any use of this document does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship. Please note that this information is current only to the date of posting. The law is constantly changing and always evolving.


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