Last updated Feb. 12, 2018.
Have you been injured while riding a public transit vehicle? If you were, you may have two potential claims available to you.
Typically, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, no matter who was at fault, you are entitled to receive Statutory Accident Benefits (“SABS”) through insurance. Every motor vehicle insurance policy in the province of Ontario includes entitlement to SABS.
However, recent changes to the Insurance Act now make it difficult for a person injured while riding a public transit vehicle to apply for SABS if it did not involve a collision with another motor vehicle or object. Keep in mind — the definition of “public transit” does not include special transportation for persons with disabilities or transportation by school buses or ambulances.
What does this mean for public transit riders, and what should you do if you have been in an accident on a bus or streetcar in Toronto?
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How Statutory Accident Benefits Work in a TTC Accident
If you own a motor vehicle and have car insurance, but are injured in a collision while riding a public transit vehicle, you may be entitled to collect SABS from your own insurance company. If you do not own a motor vehicle, you may be entitled to collect SABS from the owner of the public transit vehicle, such as the TTC.
In many instances, riders of TTC buses or streetcars are injured when the driver of the TTC vehicle brakes suddenly to avoid a collision with another motor vehicle or for any other unexpected reason.
SABS can provide you compensation for missed work, a non-earner benefit, and medical treatment including massage therapy, physiotherapy, or chiropractic care. Depending on the nature of your injury, you may also be eligible for an Attendant Care Benefit. An Attendant Care Benefit provides funds to a person who spends time assisting you with your personal care tasks following an accident.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be entitled to sue the owner of the public transit vehicle (like the TTC) or the driver of that vehicle or even your own insurance policy if an unidentified motor vehicle caused or contributed to the accident.
While the changes to the Insurance Act do make it difficult to recover SABS if there is no collision, it is now easier to sue the negligent owner and driver of the public transit vehicle.
Your Rights in a Toronto Bus Accident
Let’s take a real-life example to explain a little more about your legal rights if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a public transit vehicle in Toronto.
If a bus struck your vehicle or you were on a bus that struck another vehicle, and you suffered a serious injury, you may be eligible for as much as $400 per week in Income Replacement Benefits or up to $185 per week in non-earner benefits (if unemployed at the time of the accident).
You also may receive up to $3,000 per month in Attendant Care Benefits (with a maximum of $36,000) and up to $50,000 in Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits (more may be available if you suffered a catastrophic injury, such as paralysis or amputation). Other benefits are available to address accident-related losses. Survivor benefits are available to qualified family members in the event of a fatal bus accident.
You have the right to compensation, even if the accident was your fault. Accident Benefits are part of Ontario’s standard no-fault insurance system. The benefits are available to you, regardless of whether or not your actions caused the accident.
For instance, you may be eligible to collect benefits even if you failed to yield the right of way to an oncoming city bus, or you followed a charter bus too closely and caused a rear-end collision. Fault will, however, impact your ability to pursue additional compensation in a tort action such as a lawsuit.
You also have the right to appeal an insurer’s decision. Ontario’s no-fault insurance practices do not mean you are guaranteed a fair settlement. An insurer may attempt to deny or undervalue your claim. If this happens, you have the right to appeal the decision.
What to Do After a Public Transportation Accident in Ontario
If you are involved in an accident while on a public transit vehicle, it is important to notify the driver of the vehicle and insist that the driver report the accident. You should also take note of the driver’s name and the vehicle information (e.g. bus/streetcar route and vehicle number). You should avoid speaking with an insurance adjuster following an accident without the benefit of a lawyer at your side.
There are also certain time limitations that could bar your recovery against the at-fault party. In accidents involving public transit vehicles, as with most accidents in Ontario, this limitation period is typically two years from the date of the accident, depending on the circumstances. However, there are other notice provisions that are important to comply with.
Act quickly after a Toronto bus accident. You have just seven days in which to notify your insurance company of the accident and 30 days in which to apply for Accident Benefits after receiving the application package. Don’t miss out on your opportunity for compensation. See our free Personal Injury Information Kit to learn more.
While you may not be entitled to SABS if there is no collision, it is important to contact a lawyer at Preszler Law Firm so that we can discuss other legal avenues available to recover compensation for your injury.