Most drivers in Ontario are aware that they must have automobile insurance before driving, or letting anyone else drive, their vehicle. What most don’t know is that you may not be able to sue for your injuries if you are in an accident while driving uninsured. Even if the accident is not your fault.
Ontario’s Insurance Act (Section 267.6(1)) prevents vehicle owners from suing for injuries arising directly or indirectly from the use or operation of a motor vehicle if they are without car insurance, regardless of who’s at fault. This may seem unfair, but we want to make sure that everyone who owns a car is properly insured. We also want to make sure that people who are being paid out of the general pool of car insurance are also contributing to that pool.
However, the Insurance Act is very specific about who is prevented from suing and in what circumstances. For instance, it only applies to the owner of the car. If you are driving an uninsured vehicle, but you do not own it, you can still sue for your injuries. Also, it is not as simple as showing that the owner did not have insurance. If the owner can show he had a mistaken, but honest belief, that he had insurance at the time of the accident, he will still be allowed to sue for his damages. However, that belief must also be a reasonable one. Someone who has not paid premiums for 6 months may have a very difficult time proving he honestly believed the car was insured.
This restriction only applies in the context of automobile insurance, though. In Hernandez v. 206625, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the uninsured driver was in a car accident after being over served at a bar. The court found the driver could still sue the bar for negligence because this was non-automobile-related negligence.
It is never a good idea to drive without car insurance. However, if it does happen do not assume that you cannot sue for your damages, as this can be a complicated issue. Call us at 416-800-4378 and we can help you determine your rights.