Vehicle Owner Found Liable For Crash After Household Member Took Vehicle Without Permission
Reasons for judgment were published last week with an extensive discussion of the principles of registered owner vicarious liability for BC collisions.
In the recent case (Bowe v. Bowe) the Plaintiff was injured as a passenger involved in a collision. At the time of the crash the Plaintiff took his stepfathers car keys without permission. They lived in the same household. The Plaintiff contacted his cousin, who lived in a separate household, and collectively they took the vehicle. In the course of the evening the two boys drove around for several hours before the Accident. Both took turns driving but at the time of the crash the cousin was behind the wheel.
The Plaintiff suffered serious injuries including a moderate brain injury. A jury found the driver negligent and the plaintiff contributorily negligent. A question arose as to whether the registered owner bears any liability in these circumstances.
Section 86 of BC’s Motor Vehicle Act establishes vicarious liability for vehicle owners when their vehicle is being driven by a household member or by anyone who acquired the vehicle with the owners consent. The latter test was not applicable on these facts. The court was asked whether the household member rule was triggered in these circumstances. The applicable provision of the MVA reads as follows: