Sometimes it can be difficult to fully understand all the different scenarios and liability risks that your business can face, until you have an example. A recent decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal offers an interesting example of how a business owner may be held liable in a specific situation. Below we provide some risk management best practices that can help protect your business from liability issues in the future.

The recent case of an incident that happened over a decade ago to a garage owner in Ontario has been making headlines in the media recently because the decision to appeal the initial verdict will be going to the Supreme Court of Canada. This particular case has been in the news because the garage owner wants the chance to appeal a previous decision that found him partially liable for a brain injury incurred by someone who trespassed and stole from his business.

In a recent story by Colin Perkel of the Canadian Press that appeared in The National Post outlines some of the facts of the case:

“Court records show the teens had been drinking and smoking marijuana when they trespassed on Chad Rankin’s property in Paisley, Ont., late on an evening in July 2006. One of the teens, then 16, decided to steal a Toyota Camry even though he had never driven before.

The duo headed to Walkerton but never made it. The passenger…was left with catastrophic brain injuries in the ensuing crash.”

The law firm Miller Thomson notes in a blog article about the case, some of the reasons why the jury previously decided that the garage owner shares some of the liability in this case:

“Rankin’s Garage’s negligence arose out of leaving the car unlocked; leaving the key in the car; knowing (or ought to have known) of the potential risk of theft; having very little security; and testimony inconsistencies.

Preventing future incidents

This case serves as a warning for other business owners. A number of safety precautions and security measures can be implemented to help business owners prevent tragedies such as these, including security measures for the business premises, the vehicles on the lot, the car keys and a policy for employees to follow.

Whether you own a car dealership, are a garage owner or any other type of business, there are important risk management and loss prevention measures that you should be taking. Business owners need to consider every angle when creating a plan for their business property. Remember to keep some of these tips in mind:

Creating a security policy for employees

  • Create a policy in for all employees that educates them on your businesses risk management plan.
  • Ensure everyone from the owner, and the service department, to the mechanics and janitorial staff are trained in the policy procedures
  • For record keeping, after completion training have documents that acknowledge that they were trained in the policy procedures for your records.

Key security

  • Keys for vehicles on your lot, keys to customer vehicles and keys that are used to access to locked areas of your business property should be stored in a secured location or a lockbox.


  • Secure access to your business premises with some form of barrier like fences or walls.
  • Consider using deadbolt locks or electromagnetic locks to secure doors


  • Identify areas that could be accessed by trespassers like doors, windows and other natural openings
  • Install a surveillance system that can detect motion and sound an alarm if activated.

These are just a few of the things you need to consider when securing your business premises. For more information on protecting your business from liability, risk management best practices and loss preventions strategies speak to one of our Insurance Advisors today.

This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information.