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Do All Accident and Injury Cases Need to Go To Trial?

Summary Judgments in Ontario
 
The case of Abuajina v. Haval, 2015 ONSC 7938 (CanLII) deals with a rule of the court called “summary judgment”. It is a process by which the Court can make a decision in a summary way which would not require a full expensive trial.
 
In this case, a pedestrian  was crossing an intersection following a crosswalk signal. He was hit by a van making a right turn and the driver said he simply did not see the pedestrian. The independent witness who saw the accident said the pedestrian ran into the middle of the right passenger side of the van while it was turning right.
 
 Rule 20.04(2.1) (summary judgments) expressly permits the Court to evaluate the credibility of witnesses (who swear affidavits on summary judgment motions). The Justice hearing the motion expressed concerns about the evidence and found it insufficient. The Justice would have preferred additional questions were asked of the witnesses which could have assisted him in better evaluating the “credibility” of the evidence of the witnesses. As a result, the Justice was not able to fairly resolve the issue of liability. The motion was dismissed.
 
This case highlights the importance of using summary judgment motions to save time and expense in injury cases but only where the evidence is clear and issues of credibility can be fairly assessed on the motion. It also highlights the importance of identifying witnesses in accident cases and obtaining their evidence as early as possible after the accident. Witnesses can change the outcome of any case.
 
This article is provided for information purposes only and each case must be considered based on their own facts. Legal advice should be obtained in each case to determine the applicable law.
 
Marc-Nicholas Quinn,
Ottawa Occupiers Liability Lawyer
613-315-4878