When Do Governments Cease To Be Responsible For Our Misfortunes?

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When do governments cease to be responsible for our misfortunes? My last blog mentioned the death of a 41-year-old cyclist in Toronto when his bike tire became lodged in a stretch of unused streetcar track. He was not wearing a safety helmet and he was carrying a bag of groceries on his front handlebars. There are rumours the case may lead to a lawsuit. Apparently, similar incidents in Canada and the US have sparked litigation against municipalities, for example, in Seattle 6 cyclists sued the city after falling along the streetcar line. Their lawyer argued the city breached its duty to keep streets safe by failing to provide adequate warnings of the streetcar route. In Montreal, a cyclist hit an indentation in the road and she successfully sued the city for $113,193.10 because she claimed the pothole was not easily visible. Also in Montreal, a cyclist was awarded almost $900,000.00 when her wheel became trapped in the grates of a drain in a small viaduct. When did people stop taking responsibility for their own welfare? Of course, it’s horrible when people get hurt but how can the city protect all of us from everyday accidents. I will never forget an incident that occurred when I was a teacher. There was a severe snowstorm and the school caretaker did his best to shovel the snow and clear a path to the school entrance. Needless to say the snow continued to fall and a parent slipped on the ice on the school property. She successfully sued the school because she broke her leg and claimed she needed childcare for her children for the next 6 months plus rehabilitation therapy for herself. Personally I think accidents happen. If I fall on the sidewalk, I won’t be looking for someone to blame for my misfortune. I’ll remind myself to wear more sensible boots the next time or I’ll stay home when the weather is lousy. What do you think about the above situations? How much responsibility should we place on our governments to ensure our safety?

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