The Ferguson v. The Corporation of the County of Brant court decision was released by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on January 18, 2013.
On April 2, 2005, 17-year old Jesse Ferguson was driving on Scenic Drive, a rural road in the County of Brant, when he suddenly failed to navigate a curve, crossed through the lane for oncoming traffic and eventually crashed into a tree. As a result of his accident, Mr. Ferguson suffered serious and permanent disabilities.
At the time of the accident, a driver approaching the curve would have observed a worded “Winding Road” sign placed 166 meters from the beginning of the curve and a “Y” intersection sign placed 81 metres from the beginning of the curve.
Mr. Ferguson hired Ontario personal injury lawyers and sued the County of Brant for negligence resulting in his injuries.
At trial, Mr. Ferguson argued that the County breached its obligation to keep its road in a state of repair because it failed to install signs that adequately warned ordinary motorists of the risk of navigating the accident curve. Secondly, the Country allowed a condition of non-repair to exist on Scenic Drive in the nature of a slippery, slushy and snow-covered road, which created an unreasonable risk of harm to motorists. The County responded by arguing that Mr. Ferguson was not exercising reasonable care.
After considering all the evidence, including expert testimony, the court concluded that the signage was inadequate because the Ontario Traffic Manual required a sharp curve sign and a graphic winding road sign. The Court submitted that by not installing proper signage, the County allowed drivers to believe that the curve was gentler than it really was and it prevented drivers from knowing that there was a lower advisory or safe speed for negotiating that curve. The court concluded that had Brant provided proper signage Mr. Ferguson could and would have reduced his speed sufficiently to successfully negotiate the curve. However, the court apportioned 45% of the liability to Mr. Ferguson due to his failure to drive slower as was required by the road conditions on the day of the accident.
At the outset of the trial, an agreement between Mr. Ferguson and the County had been reached concerning the quantum of Mr. Ferguson’s damages. Mr. Ferguson was thus entitled to 55% of the agreed upon amount.