Remedies for Car Accident Victims in Ontario: Looking Beyond the Twisted Metal




Car accidents happen. They are a fact of life on the roads. Unfortunately, when accidents involve motor vehicles travelling at high rates of speed, the results can be devastating. People involved in these accidents may escape without a scratch. Others less fortunate may die or lose limbs or vision. Any number of functional impairments from a motor vehicle accident may greatly diminish one’s quality of life. The legal remedies in place to address these injuries are discussed briefly below.

My comments here are not meant to induce fear. Rather, they are meant to shed light on the realities of roadside injuries and help you gain an appreciation for what options may be available to you. Of course, every situation is different and an experienced personal injury lawyer would best serve you in assessing the facts of your own situation.

Generally, in Ontario there are two ways to obtain compensation following a motor vehicle accident. The first is through a “No-Fault” or “Accident Benefits” claim through your own insurance company, which must be applied for through a number of forms. This Accident Benefits System is considered “No Fault” because the compensation available has nothing to do with fault.  In other words, don’t think that you cannot receive compensation because you think, or the police advise you were at fault. Significant Accident Benefits are available for severely injured drivers, regardless of whose fault the accident was.

For example, whether you rear-ended someone, or were the one whose car got rear ended, you can still apply for these Accident Benefits.  These benefits may provide you with coverage for out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident. For example, this might cover medical and rehabilitation expenses for treatment and physiotherapy. Another expense that may be applied for is income replacement for lost wages up to a maximum cap. You may also be entitled to Attendant Care Benefits, which compensates you for expenses when you need a caregiver. There are other expenses you may also claim depending on the severity of your injury, which may include benefits for housekeeping, home maintenance, lost educational expenses and family visits.

If you don’t have your own auto insurance policy or aren’t named on an auto insurance police, who can you look to for Accident Benefits?  In this situation, there are several guidelines that govern these scenarios. For example, where you were a pedestrian or cyclist without auto insurance, you can claim from the insurance company of the car that hit you. If you were a passenger of a car (without your own auto insurance), you can claim benefits from the insurer of the car you were riding in. Lastly, in situations where no insured vehicle is available (unlike in the previous scenarios) you can claim from a special government fund of last resort called the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund.

The other way to obtain compensation following a motor vehicle accident is through a “Tort Claim” also known as a bodily injury claim. This is a lawsuit commenced against the at fault party or parties.  Unlike an Accident Benefits claim, the Tort claim requires the presence of fault in order to be successful. Typically, the at fault driver’s auto insurance company will step in and defend the Tort claim on behalf of the alleged at fault driver. This type of claim allows compensation for economic loss such as past and future income loss, future medical bills, future care etc. It also may provide compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Without being able to establish fault of another party for causing the accident, this claim will be unlikely to succeed.

In summary, an injured car accident victim in Ontario will generally be entitled to make an Accident Benefits Claim regardless of fault. However, to make a successful Tort Claim, it will be dependant on the presence of fault of another party without which, it will not likely succeed.


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