Area of Law: Personal Injury
Answer # 474
Automobile accidents: Who can you sue?Region: Ontario Answer # 474
In Ontario, compensation for most automobile accidents that do not result in serious injury or death, is handled entirely through the individual’s insurance company and cannot involve a lawsuit.
If you have been in an automobile accident, you should begin by telephoning the police while you are still at the scene. Depending on the severity of the accident and where the accident took place, the police will either attend at the scene or will tell you to drive to the nearest Collision Reporting Centre to report the accident and file the necessary paperwork for an insurance claim.
There are generally seven categories under which claims can be made for compensation over and above basic insurance coverage:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income and earning ability
- Medical treatment, rehabilitation and attendant care costs
- Housekeeping and home maintenance
- Family member claims
- Caregiver benefits
- Death benefits and Funeral costs
Refer to topic 477 “Automobile Accidents: What can you claim?” for details about what can be claimed under each category.
Sue the driver at fault
In some circumstances, it also may be possible to pursue compensation in addition to your basic insurance coverage, by suing the driver who was responsible for the accident. Fault is determined by the Fault Determination Rules established under the Ontario Insurance Act.
If the other driver was at fault, and you suffered a permanent serious impairment, you may be able to sue for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and future health care costs. You might also be able to sue for any economic losses or out of pocket expenses that have not been reimbursed by your insurer. These issues are quite complicated and should be discussed with your lawyer.
If you plan to sue as a result of an automobile accident, you are usually required by law to notify the person being sued within 120 days of the accident, and you must normally begin the lawsuit within two years of the accident.
What if no one has insurance?
If you do not have auto insurance, are not listed on someone else’s policy, and no other driver or vehicle involved in the accident has auto insurance or can be identified, you may be entitled to obtain accident benefits from Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF). The MVACF is considered the payer of last resort.
For those without recourse to automobile insurance, the MVACF provides:
- statutory accident benefits directly to persons involved in an automobile accident, and
- compensation for personal injury or property damage to victims involved in an automobile accident.
While MVACF protects innocent people injured in auto accidents, the people who cause the accidents are still held accountable. This means that, where legally permissible, MVACF will take legal action against at-fault uninsured drivers to recover the full amount that MVACF paid.
More information about the claims process can be found from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.
If you or someone you care about has been injured in an automobile accident, contact our preferred Personal Injury experts and see who’s right for you. They offer a free consultation and do not charge up-front fees:
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