If you are driving a motor vehicle and you do not have insurance for the vehicle, you will not be able to make a personal injury claim, even if you are seriously injured and not at fault for the accident.
An Ontario court case confirms the dangers of driving without automobile insurance. The case is Matheson v. Lewis et al. 2014 ONCA 542.
The plaintiff in this case, a hard-working farmer in a small town in Ontario, was injured while driving an uninsured all-terrain vehicle (ATV) on a public road when he was struck unexpectedly and violently from behind by a truck. The farmer suffered catastrophic brain injury and multiple bodily fractures. The farmer previously had never taken the ATV off his farm property and it therefore was not insured. The farmer and his family members (the plaintiffs) commenced an action against the driver of the truck, the truck owner and the farmer’s own automobile insurer (the defendants). The plaintiffs brought a pre-trial motion to determine whether their action was statute barred by s. 267.6(1) of the Insurance Act. Section 267.6(1) precluded a claim for damages if the injured person was operating an uninsured motor vehicle on a highway contrary to s. 2(1) of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act. The plaintiffs also sought a declaration that their claims against their insurer, Lanark Mutual Insurance Co., were not foreclosed by operation of s. 30(1)(a) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule. Section 30(1)(a) provided that an insurer was not required to pay various benefits in respect of an injured driver who knew or ought reasonably to have known that he or she was operating an automobile without motor vehicle liability insurance.
The Ontario Superior Court held that the ATV was a “self-propelled implement of husbandry” and was therefore excluded from Ontario’s compulsory insurance regime. Consequently, neither s. 267.6(1) of the Insurance Act nor s. 30(1)(a) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, applied to bar the plaintiffs’ claims. The defendants appealed.
The Ontario Court of Appeal allowed the appeal based on the conclusion the ATV was NOT a self-propelled implement of husbandry – it was an off-road vehicle that had to be insured when operated by a farmer on a public road. The Court held that the action was statute-barred by operation of s. 267.6(1) of the Insurance Act and the claims against Lanark Mutual for statutory accident benefits were foreclosed by operation of s. 30(1)(a) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule. In other words, the farmer lost his case and was thus denied the ability to make his personal injury claim and obtain significant insurance benefits and related compensation.
The message here is clear: It does not matter why your vehicle is on the road or for how long. It doesn’t matter if you are a good driver or not. You absolutely cannot drive an uninsured vehicle and, if you do and something happens, you are on your own.
The law may seem a bit heavy handed in this case but, on the other hand, this zero-tolerance approach does make sense. There is a very good reason to ensure all vehicles on public roads are insured – to protect the public and provide comprehensive insurance benefits and compensation when there is an accident.
If your vehicle is on the road, you must have automobile insurance – no exceptions.
Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Ottawa can help you with your Motor Vehicle Accident Claim.