Motor Vehicle Accidents
A motor vehicle accident (MVA) might be a normal occurrence when living in Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area. However, not many people may know all of the little details that are involved in the law when it comes to being a victim of an accident. There are so many different aspects to consider when dealing with an MVA, but the most important aspects to consider are the following:
In Ontario, all victims of a car accident are covered by certain benefits regardless of whether or not they are at fault for the accident (including passengers, pedestrians and victims of hit and run accidents). These benefits are standard in auto insurance policies in Ontario and are defined by a regulation issued under Ontario’s Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. I.8.
This regulation is known as the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). Each automobile policy provides a particular standard level of benefits, with additional optional benefits available to policy holders depending on their coverage needs. It is important to note that not every person is adequately advised of the necessity of these optional benefits.
The main benefits available to victims of a car accident include, but are not limited to:
- Medical Benefits depending on the severity of the injury (ranges from a minor injury, non-catastrophic and catastrophic impairment)
- Attendant Care Benefits if you are deemed to be at least non-catastrophic and have a substantial inability to attend to your personal care needs (bathing, feeding yourself, grooming, etc.)
- Income Replacement Benefits if you were employed prior to the accident and suffer a substantial inability to work
- Non-Earner Benefits if you were not working prior to the accident and suffer a complete inability to substantially carry on all your normal activities of your normal life
- Lost Educational Expenses due to the accident
- Damaged Clothing or Medical Assistive Devices
- Death and Funeral Payments Benefits
In addition to the standard benefits, a policy holder can pay additional premiums for larger coverage in medical benefits or income replacement benefits. In addition, they can also pay additional premiums for these other optional benefits:
- Caregiver Benefits if they are the primary caregiver and suffer a substantial inability to care for their dependents
- Housekeeping Benefits if they suffer a substantial inability to do their own housekeeping
Parties Without Insurance
If you are a pedestrian, or are injured in a motor vehicle accident where you have no other insurance coverage, then Ontario’s SABS will assign another insurance policy to cover your benefits (e.g. if you are a dependent living at home with someone who has automobile insurance, or if the other drivers involved in the accident have automobile insurance).
If there is no available insurance policy to cover you, then you may be compensated by government coverage through the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVAC).
You Must Start An Accident Benefits Claim
In Ontario, you MUST initiate an accident benefits claim BEFORE you can sue the individual who was responsible for the accident in Tort.
To begin the process, you will need to submit an OCF-1 (Application for Accident Benefits) to your insurer, another insurer with an available policy you may be covered under, or the MVAC.
Initiating a Tort Claim Against a Negligent Party
In most cases, a tort claim must be made within 2 years from the date of the accident.
Pursuing a tort claim may provide compensation and damages that would have otherwise been unavailable in accident benefits such as general damages (pain and suffering), or other out of pocket costs like housekeeping or caregiver costs that are unavailable or uncovered by accident benefits. Certain family members may also be compensated in a tort claim through the Ontario Family Law Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3 (FLA), depending on the circumstances of the accident and the injuries sustained.
To be compensated for pain and suffering in Ontario, there are a number of legal tests that have to be met:
- The accident must have caused a serious and permanent impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function. (“The Serious and Permanent Impairment Test”)
- If a jury awards general damages of less than $131,854.041 (or $65,926.46 for FLA Claimants), then $39,556.53 (or $19,778.27 for FLA Claimants) is deducted from the total award for pain and suffering (“The Threshold and Deductible Test”)
This information is ONLY a general guideline of some of the law that needs to be considered if you are a victim of a motor vehicle accident in Ontario. It is important that you seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer in order to be fully informed of your legal rights and the options you have in pursuing a claim.
It is also important to note that for most personal injury claims, almost every personal injury firm charges no fees up front. Personal injury retainers are engaged on a contingency fee basis, which means that there is no payment of legal fees until the claim settles.