Accidents and Fault Determination in Ontario
There is no doubt a million thoughts and emotions run through you when you’ve been involved in an accident, and it’s likely that only after things have settled you can begin to process what happened. Was your car stopped when it was rear-ended, or was it moving forward at the time? A detail that seems so small can make a big difference in determining who is at fault for that particular collision.
All accidents are reviewed using the Ontario Fault Determination Rules, established by the Parliament of Ontario. There are three conditions that insurance companies (or claims adjusters – individuals who work for the insurance company’s claims department who investigate the details of the accident) have to follow in order to determine who is at fault for a collision. They are:
- Fault is determined through direct or indirect action of its insured persons, using the fault rules
- Fault is determined without caring about the circumstances, including weather conditions, the road conditions, visibility, or actions of pedestrians
- Location of the damage on a car isn’t evidence of what happened in the accident
With these steps in mind, an adjuster will have to try to recreate an accident as best as possible to determine fault. They will do this by gathering what evidence and statements are available, and they will do this by using the following methods:
- Details about the accident provided by the driver to the adjuster or police officer(s)
- Details about the accident provided by the responding police officer(s) to the adjuster
- Dashboard camera video
The investigation doesn’t end there, though. There is also the question of what percentage of fault each driver involved in an accident must be assigned. These figures can be either 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100%. The adjuster must then consider whether more than one fault determination rule applies to the accident. If only one rule applies, then the percentage determination is an easy 0% (driver A) and 100% (driver B). If more than one rule applies, then the following is considered:
- The one that gives the lower fault percentage is used
- If each insured driver breaks a fault rule where each driver is both 0% and 100% at fault, then a 50/50 fault determination will be applied
Let’s go back to the example provided at the beginning of the post: you get rear-ended (by driver C) and the collision propels you (driver B) into the vehicle in front of you (driver A), causing a multi-vehicle collision. Seems pretty straight-forward. Driver C will obviously be solely responsible and deemed 100% at fault, right? Wrong. Remember how I mentioned that there was a difference between whether your vehicle was moving or not? Here’s where that comes into play.
If you were at a complete stop and get hit by driver C, an action which forces your vehicle into driver A’s car, then yes, driver C will be 100% at fault, but if all vehicles were in any way moving forward, then as the middle vehicle, you will also be deemed partially at fault (for hitting driver A). This would result in a 0% at fault for driver A, a 50% at fault for you and a 100% at fault for driver C. Though those numbers combined equal 150%, these percentages are not “out of 100” as they normally are. They’re used as data for insurance companies to help assess your level of risk as a driver.
If you are ever involved in an at fault accident and want to be compensated by your insurance company for the damage to your vehicle, you need to make sure that you have collision coverage on your policy. If you don’t, it’s important to know that you cannot add it at that time so that your insurance company will pay for damages. However, if you’re involved in a collision to which you are not at fault, you can claim the repair of the damages under your direct compensation-property damage coverage.
If you have any questions regarding what coverages your policy has or how they work, please contact your broker for help.