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Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act

The fall hunting season is upon us.  The use of recreational vehicles, such as ATVs, will increase over the next few months significantly. With more people using recreational vehicles, the probability of injuries will also increase. That is why you need to contact a personal injury lawyer if you have been involved in an accident, regardless of the severity of the injuries.   It is important to remember that, in Ontario, any recreational vehicle that is being used on a public roadway must be insured under a policy of automobile liability insurance.  Many users of recreational vehicles believe that so long as they predominantly use a recreational vehicle on their own property, it does not need to be insured.  However, when these vehicles are involved in motor vehicle accidents on public roadways, there can be serious consequences in accessing compensation, even where the injured party is not at fault.

Section 267.6 (1) of the Insurance Act provides that a person is not entitled to recover damages for bodily injury or death arising from the use of operation of an automobile if, at the time of the incident, the person was operating an uninsured motor vehicle on a highway contrary to section 2(1) of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act.  Essentially, what this means is that if you drive without insurance on a public roadway, you cannot sue another party regardless of fault and regardless of your injuries.

It is worth noting, regardless of the situation, to contact a personal injury lawyer if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accidents. The experts at Ferguson Barristers will provide you with the legal advice you need.

The Court of Appeal addressed this issue this past summer in the decision of Matheson v. Lewis, 2014 ONCA 542.

In that case, a farmer, Arthur Matheson, was injured while driving his ATV on a public road and was  rear-ended by a motorist.  The ATV was not insured and was used by the farmer in his farming operations.  The other motorist was clearly at fault, and was subsequently convicted of careless driving. The Court of Appeal overturned earlier decisions and found that the ATV was not a self-propelled implement of husbandry but, rather, an off-road vehicle.  It was therefore required to be insured when operated on a public road.  It was not insured at the time of this incident and the Court of Appeal declared that Mr. Matheson’s action against the at-fault driver was statute-barred.

In setting out its decision, the Court of Appeal looked at the purpose of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act and reiterated that this legislation is there to protect innocent victims of automobile accidents by penalizing those motorists who drive without insurance.

It is interesting to note that the evidence led in the lower court was to the effect that the Plaintiff’s insurance agent had previously advised Mr. Matheson of the need to insure the ATV if he took it onto a public roadway.  The agent testified that Mr. Matheson told him that the ATV “hardly ever” left the farm and that he “would take his chances”.

In this case, the failure to have insurance on the ATV and the decision to operate the ATV had very serious financial consequences for the Matheson family.  Despite serious cognitive and physical injuries suffered by Mr. Matheson, he is not entitled to damages for pain and suffering, past and future lost income, past and future loss of housekeeping and home maintenance capacity, and past and future health care costs.

As well, Mr. Matheson has been further penalized in respect of his ability to access statutory accident benefits.  As he knowingly operated the ATV without insurance, he is not entitled to certain benefits such as income replacement benefits and housekeeping and home maintenance benefits.

If you have been injured and need a personal injury lawyer or more information about your legal rights if you have been involved in an accident please contact Ferguson Barristers today!

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