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Driving Without Insurance

Most people certainly appreciate that there may be significant consequences for driving without insurance on their vehicle.  At the very least you could face significant fines.  More importantly, however, if you drive without insurance, and you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may not be covered/protected in the event that you cause another person personal injuries.  In that event, the injured party may seek damages against you directly.  The effects could be quite devastating financially.  

But, did you know that if you are driving without insurance and someone else causes you injuries in a motor vehicle accident you will not be able to sue that person for the recovery of any damages you have suffered!?  Regardless of who is at fault for your accident you will also have very limited access to benefits under your own accident benefits insurance policy.  

Consider the following:

Section 267.6 of the Ontario Insurance Act bars actions in vehicular negligence brought by individuals who were operating an uninsured motor vehicle at the time of their accident.  In other words, you cannot sue any other person who may have caused injuries suffered by yourself in a motor vehicle accident.

Section 31 of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule significantly limits an uninsured driver’s entitlement to benefits.  Section 31 provides that insurers do not have to pay the follow benefits to drivers who get into accidents without insurance:

  • Non-earner Benefit;
  • Income Replacement Benefit;
  • Lost Educational Expenses Benefit;
  • Visitor Expense Benefit; and
  • Housekeeping and Home Maintenance Benefit.

Medical and rehabilitation benefits, however, may still payable to those drivers even if they did not have insurance.

In Hernandez v. 1206625 Ontario Inc., 2002 CarswellOnt 3140 (ONCA) the Ontario Court of Appeal exhaustively interpreted section 267.6.  The Court found that section 267.6 prevents recovery of damages for vehicular negligence for drivers who were driving without insurance in a manner that contravenes the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act.

The Court in Hernandez did not broadly interpret section 267.6 as also preventing the driver from accessing Statutory Accident Benefits.  This is because there is already a statutory scheme that governs Accident Benefits for drivers who get into accidents and do not have insurance.  That scheme is contained within section 31 of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, O. Reg. 34/10.

Section 31 of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule makes only certain benefits unavailable to drivers who did not have insurance at the time of their accident.  Specifically it prevents those drivers from claiming:

  • Non-earner Benefit;
  • Income Replacement Benefit;
  • Lost Educational Expenses Benefit;
  • Visitor Expense Benefit; and
  • Housekeeping and Home Maintenance Benefit.

The provision does not go further than that and still leaves open the possibility for those drivers to claim medical and rehabilitation benefits under the Schedule.

This interpretation is supported by the Ontario Court of Appeal in the case of Matheson v. Lewis, 2014 ONCA 542.  In Matheson the Court reaffirmed that section 267.6 prohibits drivers without insurance from bringing claims for vehicular negligence.  However, the case also speaks briefly to whether those drivers can make claims for Accident Benefits.  Specifically the Court affirms that the appropriate scheme for determining what Accident Benefits are payable for those drivers is section 31 (then section 30) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule and not section 267.6 of the Insurance Act.  Section 267.6 only applies to bar claims for vehicular negligence and does not bar claims for Accident Benefits.

The lesson is to be ever cognizant that when you drive a motor vehicle that you have appropriate insurance in place.  Not only will it help protect you in the event of causing personal injury to another, but it will help ensure you are able to receive your full entitlements under your Accident Benefits policy and ensure that you can seek recovery against a person who may have caused you harm.

As always, if you have any questions about this blog or if you are looking for motor vehicle accident lawyers in Ottawa, do not hesitate to give us a call!

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