Driving is a daily necessity for many of us, and in Ontario, it comes with a set of legal responsibilities, one of which is having adequate automobile insurance coverage.
The Ontario Insurance Act's Section 267.6(1) primarily targets vehicle owners. If you own or lease a vehicle and it is not insured, you may lose the right to sue for damages, even if your injuries are catastrophic.
The consequences of driving without insurance extend to statutory accident benefits. These benefits include medical and rehabilitation, attendant care, and income replacement for injured parties. Unfortunately, the owner of an uninsured vehicle, as the driver of that uninsured vehicle, you may be prohibited from accessing these financial resources.
If you are injured in a car accident and cannot work, standard option accident benefits entitle you to receive up to 70% of your income, with a maximum of $400.00 a week. However, if you are uninsured, you may not be entitled to this benefit, potentially leaving you in a precarious financial situation during your recovery.
While the law is stringent, there are a few exceptions to the Insurance Act's restriction. An uninsured owner may be able to sue if they can prove they had an "honest but mistaken belief" that they had insurance. However, this belief must be reasonable, and allowing your policy to lapse or not paying premiums for an extended period may not qualify as an honest but mistaken belief. Even paying insurance for one of your vehicles but not another may still prevent you from suing.
In conclusion, driving without insurance in Ontario is not only a risky endeavor but also a potentially costly one. The strict regulations outlined in Section 267.6(1) of the Insurance Act are in place to encourage responsible ownership and protect the interests of all road users. Injuries from accidents can be devastating, and being unable to access statutory accident benefits can compound the challenges you face during recovery.
If you or your loved one has been a victim of an uninsured motor vehicle accident, we encourage you to contact our team at JEWELL RADIMISIS JORGE LLP for a free initial consultation. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of the law and ensure that your rights are protected in the face of such adversity.