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Responsibility in Case of a Road Accident

Automotive columnist: , Updated:

The concept of responsibility is used to determine the portion of the indemnity to be paid out to each driver involved in an accident. Calculation of responsibility for a road accident involving motorized vehicles can vary significantly from one province to another, as can the method of receiving indemnities.

Civil Liability and “No-Fault” Insurance 

All Canadian provinces have provisions for indemnifying those involved in road accidents who suffer from personal injury, whether they are deemed to be responsible or not. However, under a civil liability plan, a victim can legally pursue a motorist to obtain additional compensation. In this case it is courts that determine responsibility and the amounts to be paid to the victims. Under civil liability plans, the mandatory insurance all drivers have covers any such awards of indemnification, up to a certain amount (e.g. $200,000). 

Under “no-fault” insurance plans, it is not possible to pursue a motorist to obtain compensation for personal injury. However, provinces that operate under this system generally provide higher indemnities for victims of road accidents. In addition, in regards to property damage, the respective responsibility of motorists involved in an accident is not determined by a court. Rather it is the insurers who determine responsibility and who indemnify their clients accordingly.

In Quebec, for example, in regards to property damage, insurers use the Direct Compensation Agreement to determine the responsibility of those involved in a road accident. Through the use of clear visual blueprints, the Direct Compensation Agreement is useful for better understanding who is at fault during a road accident

Consult our sections that explain how car insurance works and on car insurance in Canada for more information. 

Responsibility in the Event of Damages

Whichever type of car insurance system is involved, it is necessary to determine the responsibility of motorists involved in a road accident. A claims adjuster mandated by either the courts or by your insurer, depending on the insurance system, will determine responsibility. In all provinces, you will or will not be indemnified according to the following guidelines:

  • If the claims adjuster determines that you are 100% responsible in the event of a road accident, you are covered for damages caused to another person and/or their vehicle. However, you are not covered for damages caused to your own vehicle, unless you have additional optional coverage.
  • If the claims adjuster determines that your responsibility is 0%, you will generally be indemnified for the full amount of damages, minus your deductible. This indemnity covers, for example, repairs to or replacement of your vehicle, rental of a loaner vehicle, etc. Compensation may also be paid out in cash.
  • In cases of shared responsibility, you will pay the portion of damages corresponding to your determined portion of responsibility (e.g. 25%), minus your deductible.

In all cases, a person involved in a road accident must file a claim with their insurer as quickly as possible. If there are no injuries, it is essential to immediately note all the information pertaining to the accident in an accident report. Your insurer will need this information to determine your level of responsibility in a road accident in a fair manner. Consult our sections on car insurance claims and road accident reports for more information.