Insurance, Personal Injury

Compelling new technologies 'invite' distracted driving

With the constant arrival of new consumer technologies, it is becoming more and more difficult for Canadians to resist the temptation to play with their smartwatch or GPS when behind the wheel, Fredericton litigator Matthew Pearn tells Recovery magazine.

As Pearn, an associate with Foster & Company, explains: “Some applications such as Snapchat and Pokémon Go are so compelling that they invite distracted driving.”

Personal injury actions arising from distracted driving are more common in some provinces than others, says the article. In Ontario, for example, which has a hybrid system that blends no-fault and tort, injuries have to meet a certain threshold before a civil suit can be launched.

With the tort-based systems in B.C., Alberta and the Atlantic provinces, “distracted driving frequently plays a role in establishing liability for a crash,” says Recovery.

At discoveries, Pearn explains, “we always look at whether the driver was aware of the hazards on the road.

“A typical Canadian example: there’s a tall snowbank and a car creeping into traffic gets clipped by an oncoming car. Often the oncoming driver is fiddling with a cellphone. That changes apportionment of blame so that the drivers share responsibility.”

However, in some cases, he adds, both drivers are shown to have been distracted.

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