What to do if you’re a passenger in a car accident in Ontario

Consultation with PI lawyer critical for navigating claims, says Boland Romaine LLP

What to do if you’re a passenger in a car accident in Ontario

This article was provided by dNovo Group.

Passengers injured in car accidents in Ontario have specific rights to compensation, similar to drivers. They can access accident benefits for medical treatment, rehabilitation, and other needs, regardless of fault. In cases where passengers lack their own insurance, they can claim against the driver's policy or the Ontario Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund. Additionally, passengers can pursue civil tort actions against negligent parties, including drivers and municipal bodies responsible for road maintenance. Consulting with personal injury lawyers, like Boland Romaine LLP, is crucial for navigating these claims and securing fair compensation.

What compensation can passengers claim?

If you suffer injuries as a passenger in a car accident, you can claim the same rights as drivers to compensation.

Accident benefits allow passengers access to medical and rehabilitation treatment, income replacement or non-earner benefits for unemployed or students, and attendant care benefits if round-the-clock care is required. Other benefits are also available depending on the severity of the injuries.

Regardless of who was at fault or how the accident occurred, all passengers injured in Ontario car accidents can claim compensation. These claims are usually made through the passenger’s auto insurance policy, yet even if they don’t have their own car insurance policy, they can still gain damages.

Pursuing a civil tort action

Another option for passengers involved in a car accident is to pursue a civil tort action in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In civil tort actions, passengers can claim against the driver of their vehicle, another driver involved in the collision, or, as in the case of Wasylyk v The County of Simcoe, the municipal body responsible for maintaining the highway.

In these cases, the passenger must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the car accident that caused their injuries resulted from the negligence of another party, whether a driver involved in the accident or the local authority.

Several types of compensation can be claimed through civil tort actions, including medical and rehabilitation costs, lost education expenses, damage to clothing, and income replacement or non-earner benefits.

What if the passenger doesn’t have their own insurance?

Passengers injured in an Ontario car accident can still claim accident benefits if they don’t have their own auto insurance policy by commencing a tort action. While accident benefits generally work based on each individual claiming against their own insurance policy, Ontario’s accident benefits scheme allows every person injured in a road traffic accident access to compensation.

The Ontario Insurance Act determines which car insurance policy an uninsured passenger can claim via its priority scheme. Usually, a passenger who sustains injuries in a car accident without their own policy would file a claim with the driver of the vehicle they were traveling in.

However, if that driver is uninsured and was involved in a multi-vehicle accident, the passenger can claim against the car insurance policy of any of the other drivers involved in the collision.

If these options do not allow injured passengers to claim accident benefits, they can file a claim against the Ontario Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund. This government-funded program acts as an insurer of last resort against which a passenger can claim accident benefits if all drivers involved in the accident are uninsured.

In addition, regardless of whether or not a passenger has their own auto insurance policy, they can still reserve their rights to file a civil tort claim against the driver of the car they were traveling in, any other drivers involved in the accident, or the municipality.

Does a passenger need to speak with the insurance company after a car accident?

In most circumstances, a passenger will need to report a claim to their insurance company to begin the process of receiving accident benefits. The insurer will appoint a claims adjuster to assess the passenger’s claim and decide what benefits they are entitled to.

The claims adjuster always aims to protect the insurance company's best interests. While they will remain respectful in all correspondence, it can be challenging for individuals injured in a car accident to answer challenging questions.

In these cases, injured passengers should consult with personal injury lawyers, such as the experienced team at Boland Romaine LLP, before contacting the insurance company. A personal injury lawyer can deal directly with the insurance company on the passenger’s behalf, thereby reducing the need for the passenger to deal directly with claims adjusters and reducing unnecessary stress levels as they recover from the accident.

Meanwhile, if the passenger undertakes a civil tort claim against another driver involved in the accident, the other driver’s insurers may appoint an adjuster or cross-examiner who will aim to limit the compensation paid to the passenger.

In rare cases, the claims examiner or adjuster may directly contact the passenger, potentially to offer a settlement, before hiring a defence lawyer. The passenger has yet to onboard a personal injury lawyer or lodge their civil claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

In these cases, the passenger is not legally obligated to speak with the other driver’s insurers against whom they’re making a claim. If you’re a passenger who’s suffered injuries in a car accident and is pursuing a civil action, immediately consult a personal injury lawyer to remain aware of your rights.

Boland Romaine LLP has over 40 years of experience helping passengers injured in car accidents to claim the accident benefits they’re due. In that time, they have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for individuals who have suffered fractures, orthopedic injuries, soft-tissue damage, chronic pain, traumatic brain injuries, and psychological damage.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident as a passenger, contact Boland Romaine LLP today.

Related stories

Free newsletter

Our newsletter is FREE and keeps you up to date on all the developments in the Ontario legal community. Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

Imran Kamal told his story about addiction, hoping to encourage the legal profession to be more open

Ontario Court of Justice welcomes four new justices: Frank, Hanna, Harris, Marcon

Ont. Superior Court denies disability benefits due to lack of a causal link to 40-year-old accident

Ont. Superior Court dismisses individual's insurance claim but allows corporate claim to proceed

Ontario Superior Court rejects lawyer's request to intervene in fatal vehicle collision

Slip-and-fall on black ice is an 'accident' under Statutory Benefits Schedule: Ont. Superior Court

Most Read Articles

Ontario Superior Court rejects lawyer's request to intervene in fatal vehicle collision

Imran Kamal told his story about addiction, hoping to encourage the legal profession to be more open

Slip-and-fall on black ice is an 'accident' under Statutory Benefits Schedule: Ont. Superior Court

Ontario Court of Justice welcomes four new justices: Frank, Hanna, Harris, Marcon