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Duty of care owed by the victim of the crime

November 15, 2016, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Ontario's highest court ruled yesterday that a garage is partly liable for a brain injury sufferred by a thief after he crashed the stolen car. Ontario's Court of Appeal Justice Huscroft delivered his ruling this week.

A garage owner had left a car in the garage with the keys in the ignition and failed to take steps to prevent the theft of the car even though the risk of theft was clear. In his ruling Justice Huscroft stated, ""On the face of things, the notion that an innocent party could owe a duty of care to someone who steals from him seems extravagant…but matters aren't so simple." The three judge Appeal Court affirmed a previous lower court finding of liability against the Garage.

In this case two boys 16 and 15, consumed beer and vodka at home (supplied by a parent), smoked marijuana, and then began looking in cars with the aim of stealing items from unlocked cars. When they got to the garage they found the key in the car and decided to steal the car and go driving. The sixteen-year-old drove. The 15-year-old was the passenger in the car. When the driver crashed it, the fifteen-year-old was left with catastrophic brain injuries. He sued the garage owner and the driver, and the other parent for negligence. The young man could not testify due to the extent of his brain injuries.

The courts apportion 23% blame to the driver, 10% to the passenger, 37% to the Garage as they should have known of the risk of theft, and 30% to the parent for supplying beer. The driver pleaded guilty to theft under $5,000, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, possession of stolen property. Impaired driving charges were dropped. The amount of the settlement will be determined at a further hearing, once the victim’s medical and rehab needs are fully determined. His settlement will be reduced by the amount of his negligence.

Supplying alcohol to minors is illegal and often has serious consequences. The amount of the settlement awarded will likely be large. The portion that the driver’s family will have to pay will likely not be covered by their insurance as they were committing illegal acts. Most policies preclude any payout in the event of the accident resulting from an illegal act.

With Holidays, Christmas, and New Year rapidly approaching car should be taken by anyone hosting a house party to ensure guests don’t drink too much, and to have back up plans to get impaired guests home safely. Care should also be taken by employers for the same reasons. In both cases hosts of the party can be held partly liable for any car crash or accidents involving their impaired guests.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Brain Injury, Car Accidents, Catastrophic Injury, Personal Injury

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

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