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Tom B.
Tom B., Barrister & Solicitor
Category: Canada Law
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Experience:  23 years in practice
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my son who has an alberta class 7 (beginners only) licence

Resolved Question:

my son who has an alberta class 7 (beginners only) licence was involved in an accident with another car while driving without an accompanying driver. Both vehicles were damaged. No person was injured. The police give him 2 tickets one for in correct class of licence and the second for jumping a red light. the car is insured in my wifes name. what damages if any will our insurance company cover ? And what is our best defence to reduce our liabilities ?


 


I plan for him to plead not guilty to the charge of jumping a red light. will it make any difference ?

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Tom B. replied 3 years ago.

Tom Bulmer :

Has anyone made an estimate of damages to the cars?

Tom Bulmer :

Is there any finding of fault? I assume that you assume running a red light is probably the answer there?

Tom Bulmer :

Did your son have permission to drive?

Tom Bulmer :

You have no idea how complex this is :)

Tom Bulmer :

Pleading not guilty to the ticket just gets your son a trial date. The only defence is that he did not run the light. Is there a defence that he never ran the light??

Tom Bulmer :

Have you been contacted by the insurance company yet? If so, what did they say?

Tom Bulmer :

Sorry for the homework but this is complex.

Customer:

no estimate yet. the other car s probably a write off as there is badly damaged .It is a 2004 honda civic.

Customer:

as i said the police gave him 2 tickets. i am not sure what "finding of fault is." no my son did not have permission to drive. i have contacted my insurance company yesterday nov. 12 - the accident happened on friday nov. 10 - and they have opened a file no. we have comprehensive and collision coverage for our SUV.

Tom Bulmer :

To early for a finding of fault then. I refer to the insurance company's decision as to who was at fault and by how much. 100% or 60/40 etc.

Tom Bulmer :

Is there evidence that he did not run the light?

Tom Bulmer :

If it comes to it, you will want to know what happens to your premiums if the insurance company pays. Then you compare that with the cost of paying for damage yourself and withdrawing the claim.

Tom Bulmer :

My concern is the red light and that your son could have no valid license at all if he was driving beyond his restrictions. If the insurance company is of the view he has no license (which is not what he is charged with) then they could deny coverage all together. Then the question becomes whether her policy covers her for unlicensed drivers. Not wanting to complicate but he essentially stole your car. How old is he?

Tom Bulmer :

If someone stole your car and caused an accident, chances are the insurance company would pay and then sue him. But, another issue is what type of insurance the other driver has and whether that driver is deemed to be at fault at all. It is impossible to tell what an insurance company will say or do or to comment on what insurance you have and how the policy reads. However, had he hit me, I would not have to worry because I am insured against an unlicensed or uninsured driver hitting me.

Tom Bulmer :

Let me know more about the light and his age and I will consider further.

Tom Bulmer :

Tom

Customer:

there is no witness to confirm who jumped the red light. the traffic police issued my son the ticket and said it was based on his interpretation of the way the cars was damaged. i.e. a T bone.

Tom Bulmer :

That is strong evidence. What does your son say?

Customer:

but in my opinion this should not be considered as conclusive. just because the front left of our car and the rear passenger side of the other car was damged - does not mean that he was conclusively at fault.

Tom Bulmer :

True enough. Go on.

Customer:

my son is 17 years. but is convinced it was not red and he would never jump the light.

Tom Bulmer :

Okay. Now we have more issues because he should fight the ticket if he says he did not run the red. He should not accept an accusation he does not believe in. But, someone was not supposed to be in that intersection. That will mean a trial and the officer will be called. You can appear with your son and ask questions of the officer as well as questions of the other driver. At this point, he may as well at least start the dispute process. It cannot do any harm and keeps options open. Be alive to dates on the ticket and when and where you start the process.

Tom Bulmer :

I would not advise challenging the other ticket because it sounds like what we call a "kiss". He could have been charged with driving without a license.

Tom Bulmer :

That alone may result in a suspension of his existing license.

Customer:

can my son be sued and what will come of it ?

Tom Bulmer :

Again, we go back to fault and whether there is any insurance to come of it. The answer is I do not know and no one does. Four years ago I defended a 17 year old that had a real license. He drove his insured car but allowed another boy to hold on to the back bumper while on a skate board. That resulted in a brain injury. My client was sued.. Two years ago, the law suit was dropped. My only guess is that someone got financially exhausted and did not like the ability to recover money. The reason I do not know why all occurred is the kid could not afford me and the parents could only afford me to review documents so I was never really active. But, I told them that their son could have had a money judgement against him that could dog him for 20 years. It just did not happen in that case.

Tom Bulmer :

All litigation is a balance between what someone spends versus what they think they can get.

Tom Bulmer :

Most parents really have no idea who is responsible when a child screws up. The child is usually. So, if a child of say 13 years breaks a window with a sling shot, the parents think they are responsible and pay for the window. Most of that is to make peace of course. But, the parents could walk away and say to the person with the broken window...sue the child and good luck. Alas, this is not your situation.

Tom Bulmer :

You are responsible for everything that happens as a result of any damage caused by an automobile registered in your name. If your policy does not cover this incident, then the registered owners pay. If insurance will cover somewhat, you need to assess the difference in paying for the damage or paying higher premiums. Finally, the registered owners of that vehicle are going to get sued as well if this does not settle.

Tom Bulmer :

When lawyers sue, they sue everyone that could possibly have anything to do with the damage caused. To do otherwise is professional negligence.

Tom Bulmer :

But, lawyers really do not know what happened and we get instructions from the client whom we seldom know. Believing a client is always a danger. But, if I was T Boned and suffered damage, I would sue the driver and the registered owners of the car because they are ultimately responsible.

Tom Bulmer :

This is just a script of a scenario so please take no offence.

Tom Bulmer :

I would sue the driver stating that the driver was negligent in hitting my car. I would sue the registered owners stating that they either knew or should have known that the automobile was likely to have been driven and were careless as to whether it was and took no reasonable steps to ensure that it was not.

Tom Bulmer :

Then, the defence is, the car was driven in a reasonable manner. Full stop unless he stole the car. That gets you somewhat back to my sling shot scenario.

Tom Bulmer :

A T Bone means someone was not in the intersection legally. Your son comes from behind in credibility because he started off doing illegal behavior and then states that he did not do the final illegal behavior. He has no good driving record. If the other driver has a bad driving record, that can assist. If the other driver has had no accidents in 35 years like me, who is a court going to believe?

Tom Bulmer :

So, this is early in a very bad situation. You do not know many facts. You want to believe your son and protect him. But, you have to protect the family as a whole as well. For now, you have few options because you know so little. You need to find out the position of your insurance company. That may take some weeks. If your son says he did not run the light, he must oppose the ticket now. Then, you must ensure you son does not drive again until this is sorted out. Hide keys, disable cars, do what ever you have to. You are responsible if he drives again and perhaps that he drove on that day.

Tom Bulmer :

I know my answer is not happy and maybe makes more questions but it is too early. I hope you as a family will just wait a few weeks and deal with the facts as they become known.

Tom Bulmer :

I looked at your question and saw so many issues. I told you it was complex. But, I wanted to try and I hope I have helped enough for you to accept my answer for my time commitment to you. I gave it a lot of thought.

Tom Bulmer :

Tom

Tom B., Barrister & Solicitor
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 2164
Experience: 23 years in practice
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