Marijuana Legalization and Accident Benefits: What You Need to Know
Since 2018, cannabis has been legal for adults over the age of 18 in all provinces and territories throughout the country. Given that recreational use of marijuana is now legal, motor vehicle collisions caused by impaired drivers could be on the rise in the province. Typically, since all drivers in the province are required to carry mandatory automobile insurance, if they sustain injuries in a collision, they should be able to collect accident benefits from their insurance provider in order to offset injury-related costs they have incurred. All injured automobile insurance policyholders should be entitled to no-fault accident benefits, regardless of which driver’s actions caused the collision. But will this rule apply to injured drivers whose accidents were caused by their own impairment?
Accident Benefits and Impaired Driving
Section 4 of the standard Ontario auto insurance policy describes the Statutory Accident Benefits (SABs) provided under the policy. SABs are the no-fault portion of an Ontario insurance policy — they cover the insured person for his or her own injuries resulting from an accident.
However, certain limitations can be imposed on the coverage available to injured policyholders. In particular, it denies income-replacement benefits, non-earner benefits, and payments for other expenses if an insured driver is convicted of a criminal offence involving the operation of an automobile.
Although the recreational use of cannabis is now legal throughout the country, it is still against the law to operate a motor vehicle in Ontario under the influence of marijuana. Therefore, if an impaired driver caused a collision to occur, they may not be eligible for those certain benefits.
Ontario law requires motor vehicle insurance policies to include certain minimum coverages, but it permits insurers to sell additional coverage in exchange for increased premiums. One of those, described in section 7 of the standard Ontario auto insurance policy, covers loss of or damage to an insured’s own automobile caused by a peril like fire, theft, collision, or other perils, depending on the specific coverage selected.
In such an event, the insurer is supposed to pay for the repair or replacement of the lost or damaged automobile.
However, under section 7.2.2, that coverage does not extend to a loss or damage caused by a driver’s inability to maintain control of his or her motor vehicle because he or she was driving it under the influence of intoxicating substances. Insurance companies will likely rely on this provision with some frequency, since there is no requirement that the driver be convicted of a crime before it denies coverage.
In addition, to denying coverage after an accident happens, insurance companies may also try to price a driver out of an insurance policy (or refuse to issue a policy altogether) if he or she is convicted of driving under the influence. According to MADD Canada, a conviction of impaired driving can result in a premium hike of up to $8,000 per year, making it unaffordable for many Ontarians.
CONTACT PRESZLER INJURY LAWYERS
If you were injured in a collision, you should be entitled to certain accident benefits, even if your own wrongful actions behind the wheel contributed to the conditions that caused the crash to occur. If your accident benefits have been denied, call 1-800-JUSTICE and schedule a free initial consultation on your case with Preszler Injury Lawyers.