Are you on the hook if someone else crashes your car?

Thinking of lending your car to friends or family?

Considering lending your car to a friend to help with their moving day? Or maybe a family member wants to borrow your car while you are out of the country for a few weeks? What if they are in involved in an accident? Are you on the hook? Here are a few things you might want to consider before handing over your car keys to friends or family.  

What does the law say?

Section 192(2) of the Highway Traffic Act states that an owner is liable for any loss or damages that occurs as a result of any sort of negligence. This includes whether someone else other than the owner is driving the car. Section 192(3) also applies the same liability on rented vehicles. Ultimately, you as the owner or the renter of the vehicle are responsible for any damages that occur for a driver’s negligence. However, the key condition for liability is whether an owner has given consent to use the vehicle. If someone uses your car without your permission, you are not liable for that person’s negligence. 

Issues surrounding Consent 

In some cases, it is clear whether or not you have given consent to someone to use your vehicle. For instance, when someone steals your car you are not liable for damages as a result of their negligent driving. However, in other situations the question of consent might not be as clear. For example, if your child, who is not an occasional driver on your policy, decides to take your car to get groceries and is involved in an accident, was there implied consent to use the vehicle? 

The courts have established that there is a presumption that an owner has given consent to any driver that uses their car. The onus is on the owner to prove, with evidence, that consent was not given. It’s a “fact driven” exercise. Questions surrounding your relationship to the driver, where you left the keys, and if the driver has previously taken your car out, are just a few types of questions that are relevant in determining whether or not implied consent existed. 

Keep in mind that if you do give consent to someone to drive your car and they use the vehicle in a way that you did not permit you are still liable for any damage or loss caused by them – Henwood v. Coburn, 2007 ONCA 882


The courts have made it clear: if someone has your permission to drive your car and they end up in an accident, you, the owner, are responsible. It is the owner’s responsibility to carefully manage who is and isn’t allowed to operate their vehicle. Next time, before lending your car to someone else, consider the risk you are exposing yourself to. Accidents caused by negligent driving can lead to higher insurance premiums for you. 

If you ever find yourself in a tricky situation where consent is not clear, reach out to one of our experienced lawyers at Reybroek Barristers for guidance.