It is, of course, understood that a municipality has some responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of roads and highways – our tax dollars guarantee it. But this responsibility was codified in the Municipality Act of 2001, which states in Section 44:

Maintenance

(1) The municipality that has jurisdiction over a highway or bridge shall keep it in a state of repair that is reasonable in the circumstances, including the character and location of the highway or bridge.

Liability

(2)  A municipality that defaults in complying with subsection (1) is, subject to the Negligence Act, liable for all damages any person sustains because of the default.

Defence

(3)  Despite subsection (2), a municipality is not liable for failing to keep a highway or bridge in a reasonable state of repair if,

(a) It did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to have known about the state of repair of the highway or bridge;

(b) It took reasonable steps to prevent the default from arising; or

(c) At the time the cause of action arose, minimum standards established under subsection (4) applied to the highway or bridge and to the alleged default and those standards have been met.

In cases where the municipality has been taken to court over an accident, the defense will generally use section (3), attempting to argue that the municipality did all that could be reasonably expected of them, and the accident was therefore the fault of the driver or a mere unfortunate event.

But two important cases have demonstrated how this law has been put into action. In Kelly v. Perth (County), the court decided that despite the roads being cleared at 8 AM the day of the accident, this was insufficient maintenance as the road should have been cleared and salted multiple times throughout the day.

A second case, Deering v. Scugog, was regarding an accident that left two teenage girls paraplegic. In this case, the courts found the municipality liable for two-thirds of the damages, despite the fact that the teenage driver was speeding at the time, as a variety of conditions, including insufficient lighting, an un-posted speed limit, and no center line, created an excessively dangerous driving environment.

Often in cases of single car, motorcycle or truck accidents, the driver may believe that they were the sole contributing factor. But this is not always the case.