The Ontario Ministry of Finance introduced vicarious liability reform legislation on Nov. 2, 2005, according to Today’s Trucking News. The proposed law would freeze vicarious liability for owners of rented and leased vehicles at $1 million. That exposure is also reduced by any amount recovered from the actual operator of the vehicle, whose insurance becomes primary under the proposal.Ontario is one of a handful of North American jurisdictions with unlimited vicarious liability law, which holds the owner of a vehicle vicariously liable for the actions of the operator of the rented vehicle.The Truck Renting Leasing Association says the vicarious liability problem in Ontario was highlighted last year by a $13 million award against Primus Automotive Financial Services (Vicarious Liability—Canadian Style)
. The group says the plaintiff’s lawyers in Ontario been permitted to work under contingency fee agreements, Today’s Trucking News reported. This undoubtedly provided encouragement to the trial bar to more aggressively pursue vicarious liability claims in lawsuits. The Ontario legislature is expected to act on vicarious liability reform legislation in mid-December 2005 within the context of a larger budget bill.