The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act covers plaintiffs who are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, or with a driver who can’t or won’t pay the judgement. It also covers drivers who have been injured in a hit-and-run accident.
Like any compensation program in Alberta, this program applies to a driver who is injured but not at-fault for the accident. If you were at-fault for the accident you cannot recover compensation from the MVAC program.
Motor Vehicle Accident Claims in Alberta
Understanding your rights and obligations in the circumstances of an accident is critical for each accident victim. Never assume that an insurance provider is looking out for your best interests. Alberta legislation requires that all vehicle owners acquire liability insurance.
Unfortunately, some people circumvent the law and do not have liability insurance, which means they cannot be held liable for personal injuries or fatalities caused by their actions in the event of an accident. This is why it is critical to understand your rights and contact a lawyer promptly. Sadly, your prudent action is frequently insufficient to entirely prevent Alberta car accidents.
When you have received significant injuries, obtaining your medical records and being familiar with the various types of compensation to which you may be entitled can motivate you to submit a claim under Alberta’s motor vehicle accident claims program. Having a lawyer who is well-versed in this area of the law and who can help you through the procedure makes all the difference while seeking to recover from potentially catastrophic injuries.
Understanding Alberta’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claim Program
The goal of this program is to safeguard victims of automobile accidents who have been harmed by unidentified or uninsured drivers. This includes those who may have fled an accident site. The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act of 1947 established this scheme, which permits victims to get compensation for personal injuries even if the at-fault motorist is unknown or uninsured.
To ensure that your documentation is filed properly and that you receive the assistance you require, call our legal company for assistance and support.
Here’s what you need to know about this important program.
Certain conditions must be met before the act can pay you.
The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act says that the General Revenue Fund can pay the claim when a defendant can’t or won’t pay the judgement, and the court can seek payment from the person who actually owes it.
“5(1) When a person recovers in a court in Alberta a judgement for damages for bodily injury or the death of a person arising out of the use or operation within Alberta of a motor vehicle, the person may, on the determination of all proceedings, including appeals, apply to the Administrator in the prescribed form for payment under this section in the amount of the judgement or the amount of the unsatisfied portion of it. (2) When an application is made under subsection (1) and the requirements of this section and the regulations have been satisfied, the Minister shall, subject to section 6 and sections 10 to 16, authorize the payment from the General Revenue Fund of the amount of the judgement or the unsatisfied portion of it.”
As noted above, all appeals must be resolved before the money can be paid out. Speak to your lawyer to determine whether an appeal is likely in your case. They are not applicable in every case, only in cases where some legal mistake or mistake of procedure has been made.
In addition, the accident must take place in Alberta. MVAC does not compensate you for accidents that take place in other provinces. You also must be an Alberta resident at the time of the accident.
There is a time limit.
To participate in the program, you must make your claim within 90 days of the accident. You must file a lawsuit in an Alberta court to make your claim, even if the other driver has not been identified yet. You may have to sue your own insurance companies in some cases to get the funds to pay out.
The reason you must file a lawsuit is it allows MVAC to track down the at-fault driver and recover payment from them.
If you were in a hit-and-run accident, you must make a reasonable effort to identify the driver of the other car.
Your lawyer can assist you with these attempts. For example, if you were in an area where a business might have gotten video of the driver the lawyer can subpoena the video as part of the discovery process, and can perhaps get the driver identified via their license plate.
The driver of the vehicle may not be the owner of the vehicle, but the owner of the vehicle can be held accountable too.
Note that many hit-and-run accidents in Alberta are accidents with pedestrians. Pedestrians may recover through MVAC but still have to make a reasonable effort to find the other driver.
There are limits on the amount of money you can recover through this program.
The maximum payable damage is $200,000, and if there are multiple claimants this amount must be split through the program. You may have to seek additional compensation from your own insurance company in order to fully cover these expenses. To get the maximum payout you would usually want to sue at the Court of Queen’s Bench. If your injuries are more minor your lawyer may recommend filing in Provincial Court instead. The maximum you can recover will drop to $25,000, but the process of recovering funds is often a lot faster.
This is one reason why we recommend all of our clients obtain as much uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage as possible. We also recommend SEF 44 coverage, called the Family Protection Plan, that offers additional insurance to motorists up to their existing insurance coverage. Plenty of accidents quickly exceed the amounts payable by the MVAC program.
In addition, MVAC doesn’t cover everything. For example, it will not cover property damage, which means it won’t pay to repair your car. It only pays for bodily injuries. It also won’t pay your insurance deductibles. You can include these sums in your lawsuit but you’d have to get the defendant to pay them separately.
MVAC is a program of last resort.
You can only claim from MVAC after you’ve investigated all other avenues. Some include looking to your own insurance company, looking for the other driver, filing a lawsuit against the other driver, and more.
According to MVAC, “If there is any possible policy of insurance that could cover your loss, then MVAC is not involved. Therefore, if any other driver (including the driver of your vehicle if you were a passenger) or any other owner was even partially at-fault for the accident, and that person was insured, then there is no claim against MVAC.”
Sometimes the driver borrows a vehicle and the owner tries to defend themselves by saying the driver didn’t have permission. Again according to MVAC:
“The law does not permit all forms of these defenses. For instance, a vehicle owner cannot usually argue that consent was not given if the driver was living with and is a member of their household. Also, companies often may not deny insurance coverage to their employees even if they were not using the vehicle in the course of their employment. The point to remember is that you should thoroughly investigate insurance coverage before involving MVAC.”
If the driver was drunk you may even have to bring a lawsuit against the establishment that served the alcohol before involving MVAC.
All of this means you’re going to need the help of a qualified personal injury lawyer to get paid, no matter who pays you! To ensure that you get paid and covered you should speak to one of our experienced personal injury lawyers today.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much can someone sue for a car accident in Alberta?
The MVAC Program’s monetary ceiling for all claims stemming from a single accident is $200,000 (plus legal fees). You may be eligible to further compensation from your own insurance provider if your injuries are severe enough to surpass MVAC’s payout limit.
How long does it take to settle a car accident claim in Alberta?
Approximately 98% of disputes are settled out of court. Prior to a final judgement at trial, your case might be settled at any moment. If a settlement cannot be reached before the trial, it may take 3 to 4 years for your case to be considered in court.
What is the time limit for accident claims?
Until the time Section 53 of the Amendment Act, there has been no provision for seeking a delay condonation if an application for compensation is made beyond the six-month period from the date of the accident (Sub-section 3 of Section 166, as proposed to be introduced by way of the Amendment Act).
How do you calculate compensation under the Motor Vehicle Act?
Where the dead held a permanent employment and was under 40 years old, an addition of 50% of real wage to the deceased’s income related to future possibilities. If the deceased was between the ages of 40 and 50, the increase should be 30%. The extra must be 15% if the deceased was between the ages of 50 and 60.
What is the average payout for a personal injury claim in Canada?
Compensation for pain and suffering is capped at $340,000 under Canadian law. Unfortunately, the typical compensation falls well short of the ceiling, averaging about $10,000 to cover basic medical costs.