Car Accidents and Negligence: When Are You Liable for Another Person's Driving?
Cases of car accidents and negligence are usually quite complex as it usually involves more than one party. In most cases, either of the two parties are held responsible for the damages. But sometimes, the liability for the accident may not be taken by the driver. There are instances when the owner of the vehicle will be held responsible and not the person driving the vehicle. These cases fall under ‘vicarious liability’ and you will have to take legal help to deal with such cases.
Who is Liable?
In many personal injury disputes related to car accidents, it is a common occurrence that person A was driving the vehicle but person B is held liable for the collision. This usually occurs in cases of vehicle lending. A person is usually held liable for someone else’s negligent driving when they lend their own vehicle. This is in accordance with the Highway Traffic Act of Canada. In most provinces, the car owner is considered responsible for any insurance expenses and penalties inflicted by someone else driving their car. And it is the courts and not the insurance companies who have the final say when it comes to determining the fault. This also means that if you are injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligent driving, even if they aren’t the owner of the vehicle, you can fight the owner for a settlement or a court decision to be compensated for your injuries and lost wages.
So, the next time you have to lend your vehicle, think twice about the possible repercussions. An article in the Globe and Mail states that:
"When you lend your car or truck to another driver, you're also lending them the insurance that goes with it, and the good driving record you've established with that car. Because of that, it's well worth taking time to understand and ask some questions before lending out your vehicle.."
In the previous section, we decoded how the owner of the vehicle can be held liable even if someone else was driving the vehicle. Now what is exactly is the ‘liability’? As per the Alberta Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program, "when someone contributed to the accident (wholly or in part), they are said to be "at fault" for the accident and for any injuries, death or property damage that resulted. If a driver is at-fault for the accident, he or she may have to pay the victim or their survivors for the injuries, deaths or property damage that were caused. This is referred to as liability."
In most cases, the owner and the person directly responsible for the accident have to pay a fine or a compensation that would take care of the damages caused the victim (physical, economical, mental). If the accident was a hit and run case, then criminal charges are applicable on the driver of the vehicle. Also, in some cases, the owner is not a sole person but an entity such as a company or a group of people who collectively own the vehicle.
Things to Keep in Mind before Lending your Vehicle
Firstly, be careful about whom you give your car to. Make sure you know about their driving expertise. Imagine mindlessly giving your vehicle to a person who has not even passed their driver’s test. This would surely be a recipe for disaster. So, see to it that the person driving your vehicle is legally allowed to drive in your province. If someone from your family is driving your car on a regular basis, then make sure your insurance company is aware about it so that they can decide if an additional premium applies to your car insurance policy.
Have you been unfairly affected by someone else’s negligent driving? Seek legal help from the best law firms in Alberta.