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The Law and You: A friend borrowed my car and got into an accident - now what?

Troy H. Lehman, Partner at Oatley Vigmond LLP, shares the risks and actions you can take to protect yourself
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People let their family and friends drive their vehicles frequently. But few think of the legal consequences should an accident happen and someone is seriously injured.

If you own a motor vehicle in Ontario and another person drives it with your consent, you are responsible for the consequences of their negligence. If they drive through a stop sign and hit another vehicle, someone injured in the other vehicle can sue both the driver and you (as owner) for their injuries. Or if someone borrows your car, gets drunk, and then runs over a pedestrian, the pedestrian can sue both the driver and you for their injuries.

This system of vicarious liability has been part of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act for years and is meant to protect innocent victims of automobile accidents.

As an owner of a vehicle you can protect yourself in two ways. First, be careful about who you lend your vehicle to. Second, and more importantly, make sure you protect yourself with adequate car insurance.

Your insurance policy will cover you for claims brought against you as an owner, even if someone else is driving your car. But if someone is catastrophically injured and your insurance limits are too low to cover their damages, your personal assets will be at risk. It is very cheap to increase your insurance limit from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000. A five minute call to your insurance broker could save you from losing your home if you or someone driving your vehicle is at fault in a serious accident.

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Oatley Vigmond represents injured individuals in their claims against insurance companies. Oatley Vigmond can be reached at (705) 726-9021 or 1-888-662-2481.