An Ontario judge has ruled that a Perth farmer can sue and can get access to certain insurance benefits  in connection with a 2008 accident, even though the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) he was  driving was not insured at the time of the accident.

The Insurance Act includes a heavy penalty for an owner of a vehicle who is injured in an accident when the vehicle he was driving was not insured.  That penalty is that he cannot sue any other driver for his damages, even if someone else was 100% at fault and responsilbe for the accident.  The accident benefits (SABS or “no fault benefits”) that the person can recover are also limited.

In an April 24 ruling, Ontario Superior Court Justice Kenneth E. Pedlar ruled  that Arthur Matheson’s ATV was a “self-propelled implement of husbandry” or a  vehicle designed specifically for farm use.   As such, it was excluded from the usual requirement that it be insured under a motor vehicle liability policy. Other farm vehicles such as tractors  are clearly excluded from the Highway Traffic Act’s definition of motor vehicles and  don’t require insurance under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act..

On Oct. 11, 2008 Matheson was using an ATV to get from one part of his farm  to another.  To do so, he went out his driveway and drove a short distance on a public road,  where he was struck from behind by a truck.  It appears that Mr. Matheson suffered permanent and serious injuries in the accident.

Justice Pedlar ruled that the Matheson family could claim accident benefits and income replacement benefits from Perth-based Lanark Mutual Insurance Company, which insured his  car and truck.  Importantly, Justice Pedlar also ruled that Mr. Matheson could pursue his claim against the at-fault driver, who had relied on the Insurance Act as a complete bar to Mr. Matheson’s claim for damages.

We understand that the decision is under appeal.  If you are not sure about whether you require insurance get a profiessional opinion.  If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident (including a snowmobiles or ATV accident) consult one of the lawyers at McNally Gervan LLP to find out what your rights are.