Bicycle Accidents in Ontario – What Are Your Legal Rights?

When a bicyclist gets into an accident involving a motor vehicle, it is common for them to not know that they may be entitled to the same compensation as passengers or drivers injured in a car accident.

Under the laws of Ontario, there are two avenues of compensation that a bicyclist can claim:

  1. They can make an accident benefits claim through a motor vehicle insurance policy; and
  2. They may be able to claim compensation by filing a civil claim against the negligent driver in tort.

Accident Benefits Claim

In Ontario, we have a “no-fault” insurance system that is governed by the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (‘SABS’) under the Insurance Act. This regulation sets out the benefits/compensation available to drivers, passengers and pedestrians that are injured in a motor vehicle accident regardless of whether or not they were at fault for the accident.

If the bicyclist has their own motor vehicle insurance, they can claim accident benefits (‘AB’) even though the accident did not involve their own vehicle. If they do not have their own motor vehicle insurance, then they can claim AB through the insurance of the driver who was at fault. If the driver does not have motor vehicle insurance or if the driver cannot be found (i.e. hit and run), then the bicyclist can claim AB though the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims (MVAC) Fund administered by the Ontario Government.

Depending on the severity of the injury (and/or in some cases, whether you have purchased additional AB insurance cover), the benefits you can claim may include:

  • income replacement benefits
  • non-earner benefits if you were not working at the time of the accident
  • medical and rehabilitation benefits (that are not covered by OHIP)
  • visitor expenses
  • caregiver benefits
  • damage to clothing caused by the accident
  • housekeeping benefits
  • attendant care benefits
  • assessment and medical report costs
  • lost educational expenses
  • death and funeral benefits (claimed by spouse and/or dependents)

To claim AB with a motor vehicle insurance company, you will need to complete an application package within 30 days of receipt of the forms. It is important that you do not delay in doing this because waiting for too long may prejudice your ability to claim compensation under AB.

Civil Claim

The second avenue of compensation is suing the negligent driver (who will be indemnified by his own motor vehicle insurance company.) In a civil claim, you can claim any additional losses that you were unable to claim in AB including general damages (i.e. pain and suffering) as well as future losses, additional loss of income, (not covered by AB such as future work opportunity) or additional medical treatment.

It is important to speak to a lawyer about this because the laws have recently changed that make it a little more difficult for Ontario accident victims to claim

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