There’s a Canadian rumour going around that says if you apologize to another driver in a collision you are automatically accepting liability. Is it true?

Saying “sorry” to the other driver does not make you liable (responsible) for an accident. Liability turns on the actual facts of the collision. The answers to the following kinds of questions will have an impact on liability (responsibility):

  • a) Were you following the ‘rules of the road’?
  • b) Were you paying attention?
  • c) Were you ‘distracted’?
  • d) Were you driving without keeping a proper, or any, lookout?
  • e) Were you driving without due care and attention, and without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway?
  • f) Were you driving at a rate of speed that was unreasonable, having regard to all of the circumstances of the case?
  • g) Were you operating a motor vehicle which was not equipped with proper brakes, or alternatively, failing to apply the brakes in time so as to avoid a collision?
  • h) Did you fail to yield or take any evasive action to avoid a collision, or alternatively, fail to take such action in a timely manner?
  • i) Did you fail to operate your vehicle under proper, or any, control?
  • j) Did you fail to keep, or to ensure, that your vehicle was in good mechanical condition?
  • k) Did you drive while your ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by the use of drugs, alcohol, weariness or other cause?
  • l) Did you operate your vehicle in a manner that was dangerous to the public, having regard to all of the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of such place and the amount of traffic that at the time was or might reasonably be expected to be on such place?

In Alberta the Alberta Evidence Act states that an apology in connection with any matter does not constitute an express or implied admission of fault or liability. Section 26.1(3) states that evidence of an apology made by or on behalf of a person in connection with any matter is not admissible in any court as evidence of the fault or liability of the person in connection with that matter.