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Am I Responsible for This Car Accident? (I Was Rear-Ended)

Thank you to Mr. Eric Lai and the Toronto Star Wheels section for allowing us to respond to a reader’s question last Saturday, June 20, 2009. You can find the article here or in PDF form.

Basically, how do you dispute the fault assigned to you by your insurance company?

If you are found “at fault” for an accident by your insurance company, it can affect how much you’ll receive for your property damage (i.e. your car is a total loss) and also affect your insurance premiums.

As background to the Toronto Star article:

• The Fault Determination Rules apply to Ontario car accidents and allow all insurers to refer to the same set of fault guidelines and quickly resolve most liability questions. In another context, we referred to these rules in our March 30 blog;

• What if your insurer finds you (partially or entirely) at fault and you disagree? Under Section 6.7.3 of the Ontario Automobile Policy, you can sue your insurer to have a Judge decide whether you are at fault and if so, your proportion of fault; and

• You can find the Ip v. Scottish & York Insurance Co. case referred to in the article here.

Potential Future Changes to Ontario’s System

As discussed in our April 7 blog (on changes to the Bill 198 auto regime), Ontario’s laws may change in the near future so that Toronto Star readers like Mr. Oetomo can more easily challenge their insurance company’s determination of their fault in a car accident.

Recommendations made by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) in their recent report include changes to the Ontario Automobile Policy (above Section 6.7.3)

Recommendations 4, 5, 6 and 7 of that report recommend an easier system which allows insured drivers/owners to dispute the fault determination imposed by their insurance companies arising from accidents. It is suggested that the current system, forcing an insured owner to start a lawsuit against their own insurer, is too expensive and cumbersome.

Our thanks again to Mr. Eric Lai and the Toronto Star Wheels section for allowing us to respond to their reader’s question.
Gregory Chang
Toronto Insurance Litigation Lawyer