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Is a premises owner liable for injuries suffered during a crime?

An unusual and complicated legal affair has emerged from a seemingly straightforward case. At the heart of the case is the question of liability and duty of care of a premises owner when a crime is committed on his or her property. In a strange turn, a car thief is suing the owner of a garage after he suffered injuries following the theft in a small Ontario town.

The incident took place in July 2006. A 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old friend, after drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, decided to steal a car, even though neither had ever driven before. With the 16-year-old driving, the pair stole a Toyota Camry from the lot of an auto body shop. The driver crashed the car, leaving the passenger severely injured, including a traumatic brain injury. 

The passenger has taken the unusual step of suing the driver, the driver's mother and the owner of the garage. It is alleged that insufficient measures were taken to prevent the theft of the vehicle with witnesses testifying the premises were unsecured and the keys were in the vehicle. The garage owner denied the claims.

A jury sided with the plaintiff and determined the garage owner was 37 percent responsible. An Ontario Court of Appeal ruling upheld the original verdict. The owner was also ordered to cover the plaintiff's $30,000 legal costs.

Many cases involving personal injuries are not exactly as they seem on the surface. After suffering serious injuries in an accident, it may be worth discussing the case with a personal injury lawyer. A skilled lawyer may find avenues for compensation that had not previously been considered or explored.

Source: nugget.ca, "Is victim at fault for thief's injury? Garage owner gets chance to fight liability for teen hurt in stolen car crash", Colin Perkel, March 13, 2017

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