Who is Liable for Damages Caused by a Stolen Vehicle?

suffering damages caused by a stolen vehicleIf you are involved in an accident with a stolen vehicle, you may be confused about who will cover your damages, especially if the thief flees the scene and cannot be located or identified. The owner of the vehicle is often an innocent party and generally cannot be found liable, which means you will likely have to file a claim under your own insurer to recover compensation. An experienced lawyer can help you handle the complexities involved in these situations.  

A Windsor-based car accident lawyer from our firm is prepared to review your claim and discuss your rights and potential legal options in a free initial consultation. There is no upfront cost to retain our services.

Liability for Harm Done By a Stolen Vehicle

After an accident, typically the at-fault driver is responsible for the cost of any injuries and damages. However, when the driver of a stolen vehicle is to blame for what happened, neither the owner of the stolen vehicle nor his or her insurer will be liable. The owner of the vehicle may only be responsible for damages in an accident caused by someone who was permitted to borrow the vehicle.

The thief will be responsible for the losses due to his or her negligent behavior. Yet his or her insurer may deny coverage since their policyholder was engaged in illegal activity at the time the damage was caused. This can make recovering compensation from the driver of the stolen vehicle very challenging. It may not be possible to locate the thief, but even if found and identified, he or she may not be covered under any insurance policy.

Auto Insurance and Stolen Vehicles

Whether your damages are covered will depend on your type of auto insurance. Protection against theft is included in certain policies. Comprehensive coverage can protect you and your vehicle from damages not caused by an accident, like paying for the cost to repair or replace your vehicle if it gets stolen.

If you do not want comprehensive coverage but want to be protected from car theft, specified perils coverage will not pay for all possible damages, but it will pay for particular coverage included in the policy. Both comprehensive coverage and specified perils coverage are both optional add-ons in Ontario.

What to Do if Your Vehicle is Stolen

Vehicles are stolen every day from driveways and parking lots. According to Statistics Canada, in 2019 alone, over 24,000 vehicles were stolen in Ontario and about 87,000 in Canada.

If your vehicle is stolen, some steps can help protect your claim for compensation. You do not want the insurance company to review your claim and think you were involved in the theft of your vehicle.

Verify Your Vehicle is Stolen

If you cannot locate your vehicle, perhaps it was towed, parked in a different spot than usual, or you forgot you lent it to someone. Consider who else could have access to your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle was actually stolen before calling the police. You do not want to be accused of filing a false police report.  

Call the Police and Report the Theft

Call the police as soon as possible to start the investigation process. A police report will need to be filed with a detailed description of your vehicle (model, make and year), license plate, VIN number and the last location your vehicle was seen. Also inform the police of any tracking device software to help locate your vehicle and obtain a copy of the police report once it is available for your records.

Let Your Insurance Company Know of the Theft

After the police report is filed, your insurer must be notified that your vehicle has been stolen and is no longer in your possession. Provide as much detail as possible, such as personal items left in the vehicle.

Although your policy may cover theft, you will not receive a payout right away. Many insurance companies wait before closing a claim to rule out fraud and to see if your vehicle is recovered.

If your stolen vehicle is never recovered, it will likely be deemed a total loss. You may be reimbursed for the market value or actual cash value of your vehicle, but not for its original value.

Get Answers to Your Legal Questions Today

If you suffered damages caused by a stolen vehicle, contact Greg Monforton & Partners to learn whether you may have a valid claim. Our legal team is well-versed in different insurance policies and coverage options. We have recovered millions in compensation on behalf of our clients over the years.

Your initial consultation is free and provides an opportunity to have your questions answered. You are not obligated to move forward, but if you do, we charge nothing up front. We only get paid if you do.

Gives us a call at (866) 320-4770 to get started.