What is the Motor Vehicle Accident Claim Fund?
This blog discusses what happens when someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident, and no one has automobile insurance. It should be read in conjunction with Is It Important to Have Car Insurance?, which discusses the importance for all motorists to buy car insurance.
As wise as it is for every motorist to purchase car insurance, not everyone is in a position to do so. Consider a few examples:
- Someone with a medical condition that prevents the ability to obtain a driver’s licence (perhaps a vision problem or a seizure disorder)
- A member of our increasingly urbanized society who lives, works, and plays along public transit lines, who makes the conscious choice not to own or operate a car
- Someone whose principle means of getting around town is an e-bike (which is not required to be insured as it is not an “automobile” in law)
Now consider such an individual being struck by a car that is being driven by an uninsured motorist or a motorist who flees the scene and is never caught. Every time I appear in Provincial Offence Court there are multiple individuals present before the court who have been charged contrary to the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act with operating a vehicle without having insurance. Most of those before the court have not been in a car crash, they’ve simply been pulled over for some traffic violation, and have then been unable to produce evidence of insurance, but if any one of them had run over a pedestrian, who also didn’t have insurance, what happens? Is the injured victim simply out of luck?
The answer to that question is that our society has recognized that motor vehicle accidents are such a predominant cause of injury that a fund of last resort has been created to protect individuals who have been injured by an uninsured motorist, or by a motorist who fled the scene of an accident such that his or her identity cannot be ascertained. So that no one slips through the cracks, the government has created the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF) which will fill the void.
An entire paper can be written about the MVACF, but for the purposes of this blog, here are some of the more important highlights:
- The MVACF is a payer of last resort, so if there is auto insurance of any kind that is available to respond to a loss, the MVACF will have no involvement.
- The MVACF provides:
- statutory accident benefit coverage to the same extent and with the same protections as an actual auto policy, but only with respect to accidents that have occurred in Ontario, and only with respect to a claimant who is an Ontario resident;
- liability insurance policy limits that are capped at $200,000, exclusive of costs (the minimum liability policy limits in Ontario) in terms of paying any losses attributable to an uninsured or unidentified at-fault driver. This will be sufficient to cover all losses in small cases, but woefully inadequate for the most serious cases.
- In cases involving unidentified motorists, should the matter proceed to trial, it is to be tried by judge alone, without a jury.
- In cases involving an identified motorist, who was uninsured, the MVACF can pursue that individual directly to pay back all the money that was paid by the MVACF and until it is repaid, the driver’s licence of the uninsured motorist shall be immediately suspended.
- No money will be paid out by the MVACF unless all possible defendants were sued.
- Unlike every other kind of personal injury case, the MVACF shall not pay out any amount for interest on a judgment.
- The MVACF will not agree on the payment to be made for costs and instead requires the costs claimed to be assessed and awarded by a judge or assessment officer.
Contact a personal injury lawyer at Lerners LLP for a no-cost initial consultation.