Distracted driving, criminal negligence and Ontario injury claims

On August 20, 2013, a cube truck driver in Toronto crashed head-on into a TTC bus as passengers were entering and exiting, according to Link Newspaper. The crash killed one of the bus passengers, a 52-year-old woman, and injured 12 others. Some injuries were deemed life-threatening. A witness alleges that the 40-year-old truck driver was talking on his cellphone at a Scarborough intersection just moments before he crashed into the bus.

The driver has since been charged with one count of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily injury among other charges, Link Newspaper revealed. While it is unclear when he is scheduled to have a court hearing, if he is convicted, that ruling may be used in civil lawsuits related to the incident.

Negligence in criminal and civil law

According to the Canada Criminal Code, a person is criminally negligent when he or she fails to do anything that is his or her duty under the law and shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other individuals. Since the truck driver has been charged with criminal negligence, the Crown believes that talking on a cell phone while driving in this case rises to that level. In a civil suit the threshold for establishing liability is negligence. Put simply, negligence in an auto accident case is not obeying the rules of the road and not driving reasonably under the circumstances.

Statistics for distracted driving

Distracted driving is a growing cause of fatal accidents in Canada. A CBC article indicates that fatalities involving distracted driving rose 17 percent between 2006 and 2010. An article in the Globe and Mail cites the rise in distracted driving as a cause of road fatalities from 19 percent in 2010 to 26 percent so far in 2013. A report from Transport Canada suggests that nearly 53 percent of drivers between 16 and 34 years old and 37 percent of drivers across all age groups used a cell phone at least once a week while driving.

Cellphone use is more prevalent than ever and likely to continue burgeoning in an age increasingly marked by digital communication. While these tools allow Canadians to connect with each other in new ways, the above figures suggest the considerable risk potential inherent in using these devices while on the road.

Consulting with an auto accident lawyer

A lawyer may be able to assist you with filing a personal injury claim as a result of an auto accident involving distracted driving. You may receive personalized advice, help filing forms and representation in court, and the lawyer may be able to obtain a subpoena for the responsible driver's cellphone records to prove his or her negligence. Most injury lawyers offer free initial consultations to help new clients get started.