Apr

19

Auto-Accident Settlement Release Agreements: When you might need one…

Now, I’m not a Toronto Personal Injury Lawyer, but I thought it would be worthwhile to talk about minor auto accidents and when you could use an Auto Accident Settlement and Release Agreement. Please keep in mind that this information is not legal advice. Laws are subject to change without notice. If you need legal assistance with a personal injury matter, consult a lawyer (e.g. make a post on Dynamic Legal Forms).

OK, so you’ve gotten into a minor fender bender in Ontario and you’re not sure where you LEGALLY stand, eh? Let’s go through it together, shall we? Now, we start off with the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. Section 199(1) of that Act says that every person who is in charge of a car involved in an accident MUST, if the accident resulted in personal injury or in damage APPARENTLY EXCEEDING a SET AMOUNT, REPORT the accident to the police. OK, so what if there is no personal injury? Move on to the property damage… You need to see what the regulations prescribe to be the SET AMOUNT. If the damage to all of the vehicles involved in an accident is more than this SET AMOUNT, then you have a duty to report this accident to the police. Turning to s. 11 of the General Regulations made under that Act reveals that the SET AMOUNT is $1,000. OK…so what if the property damage is less than $1,000? Well, then there’s no legal obligation on you to report it to the police. But what about your insurance? Dum-da-dum-dum!

Well, we first turn to the Ontario Insurance Act. Section 234 of that Act says that there are mandatory CONDITIONS which must be part of every auto-insurance contract. The auto-insurance contract is your insurance policy. It’ll say things like when you need to report an accident and what kind of deductible you need to pay before the insurance steps in to cover the rest. A deductible is a set amount of money you agree to pay (e.g. $500, $1,000, etc.) before the insurance company pays the rest up to the policy limits. There’s a section in the Act that says that every auto-insurance contract must carry a limit of at least $200,000 for liability resulting from bodily injury or death to people and loss / damage to property: section 251(1). This is basically the “YOU MUST HAVE MANDATORY AUTO-INSURANCE COVERAGE OF $200K” in Ontario law. That was just an aside. Now back to business. Section 258.1(1) of the Act says that, if you have auto-insurance and are involved in an accident that is REQUIRED (see above) to be reported to police under the Highway Traffic Act, then you must ALSO tell your insurance company of the accident. Importantly, you must do so WITHIN 7 (yes, seven) days of the incident!

Now, turning to the Statutory Conditions Regulation (i.e. the conditions that are required to be in every automobile policy according to the Insurance Act), section 5(1) says that an insured person MUST give to the insurer written notice of ANY accident involving loss or damage to persons or property AND of any claim made on account of the incident. It’s interesting to note that you also mustn’t settle any claim unless you do so at your own cost: section 5(2)(a). Furthermore, section 6(1) says that, where loss of or damage to your car occurs, if the loss is covered by your automobile policy, then you must notify your insurance. So what is the effect of these and other statutory conditions? It seems to be a bit gray to me. On the one hand, if there’s an obligation on you to report EVERY accident (even the ones you’ll pay for through your deductible) under your auto-insurance policy with the insurance company, then failing to report is a breach of that contract. It could result in them not insuring you if things go out of hand (i.e. personal injuries result, property damage greater than $1,000, you get sued, etc.). On the other hand, if a person was involved in a minor fender bender that didn’t result in personal injury or total property damage over $1,000, and reporting it will only result in them paying the deductible and having their premiums going UP, then that person will likely not want to report the accident at all. They’d rather take their chances outside of the insurance system. This is a risk that many people take on a daily basis. I’m not condoning or recommending either approach. This is a personal decision whether you want to avoid your contractual obligations. Auto-insured be ware! That said, if you do want to settle a minor fender bender out of your own pocket, document this settlement and obtain a release of liability from future claims (if only one part was at fault), it’s best to have an:

Auto Accident Settlement and Release Agreement (One-Sided)

The “One-Sided” at there’s only One party at fault and only that party wants a release (in exchange for paying). If both parties may have been at fault, then you can use an Auto Accident Settlement and Release Agreement (Mutual). Here’s the sample Video Guide that comes with this Auto-Accident Settlement and Release Agreement (One-Sided):

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