Why Dirt Bike Accident may not qualify for No Fault Accident Benefits

Posted by Stevenson Whelton LLP
October 14, 2019

‘No fault’ statutory accident benefits under Ontario vehicle insurance policies provide insurance coverage if an insured person or their dependants are injured in any type of motor vehicle accident.  This includes coverage for injuries you may sustain if you’re struck by a car while walking or cycling, or any other injuries that result during the operation of a motor vehicle.  In an accident involving an off-road vehicle, an injured person would also generally qualify for statutory accident benefits; however, there are exceptions where this may not hold true, which was the issue to be resolved after an injured dirt bike rider was denied benefits.

A recent civil action, 17-006174 v. Travellers Insurance Company, tested whether a person injured in an off-road dirt bike accident that occurred in a closed-course competition, sponsored by a motorcycle club, was eligible for Statutory Accident Benefits (SABS).  The insurance company accepted that the injured person was involved in an accident that caused a physical impairment; however, the insurer denied the injured person’s claim on the basis that the incident doesn’t meet the legal definition of an ‘accident’ because it did not involve an ‘automobile’, as defined in the Insurance Act and SABS.  

The applicant appealed the insurer’s decision with the Licence Appeal Tribunal, and the Tribunal referred to the Off-Road Vehicles Act (ORVA) to determine whether the dirt bike was legally required to be insured.  On appeal, the adjudicator found that the injured person was not involved in an ‘accident’ as defined in SABS because the dirt bike doesn’t meet the definition of an automobile, as it was not required to be insured while driving off-road at a closed course competition. Although off-road vehicles are normally required to be insured, as set out in ORVA s. 15, off-road vehicles involved in a closed course competition are exempt and this was the circumstance under which the accident occurred.

Under the Off-Road Vehicles Act s.2(1), the following classes of vehicles are exempt from requiring insurance:

  • Golf Carts
  • Wheelchairs
  • Road- building machines
  • Self-propelled implements of husbandry
  • Wheelchairs
  • Off-road vehicles driven or exhibited at a closed course competition or a rally sponsored by a motorcycle association.

Accordingly, accidents involving these vehicles (and not involving another actual motor vehicle) do not qualify for statutory accident benefits.   So, if you are struck by a golf cart or injured while operating a golf cart, you are not eligible to claim statutory accident benefits.  However, if you were seriously hurt in any type of accident caused by another person's negligence, you may bring a personal injury lawsuit against the person or parties who caused the injury, to obtain compensation for any losses associated with your injuries.

Disclaimer: Our blog is intended to inform our existing and prospective clients about topics pertinent to their lives. While our goal is to provide accurate and factual information, this in no way should be taken as legal advice or applied to specific cases. It is in your best interest to contact a licenced and practising lawyer for legal representation, as matters of the law are often complicated and cannot be fully assessed without knowing all of the details of a case.