On your usual commute to work something unusual happens. While driving to work, a wild animal darted across the road which resulted in you colliding with another vehicle and injuring the other driver. The other driver has sued you and the liability for the accident has currently been assigned to you at 100%. You are thinking that this is extremely unfair as there was nothing that you could have reasonably done to avoid the accident. This situation is governed by the defence of inevitable accident (the “defence”).
The defence places an onus on the person asserting the defence to prove that the exercise of reasonable care while driving could not have prevented the accident. The circumstances of the accident must have been beyond the driver’s control.
The defence has been pled in a few different scenarios in which the defendant has claimed that the accident was entirely out of their control. For example, defendants have pled the defence when a rogue bee has flown into their car, when a wild animal darts across the road and when the driver loses consciousness while driving.
For the defence to be successful the court must be satisfied that the inevitable accident was indeed inevitable and that the circumstances causing the accident were not reasonably foreseeable.
The court must be satisfied that there was nothing that the driver could have done to avoid the accident. For example, the defence may not be successful every time an animal crosses the road as the amount of time to react, the driver’s attentiveness and the type of animal will be considered. A driver’s evasive or lack of evasive action must be deemed by the court to have been reasonable in the circumstances.
The court must also be satisfied that the circumstances which caused the accident were not reasonably foreseeable. For example, if the road you were travelling on was frequented by darting deer, it would make a deer appearing on the road and causing an accident reasonably foreseeable. Also, if you have a health condition that may cause you to lose consciousness, losing consciousness on the road and causing an accident could be also be considered reasonably foreseeable. Lastly, if you know that the outdoor temperature was going to cool below freezing after a rain, slipping on ice would be reasonably foreseeable.