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Bike & Motorcycle Accidents in Ontario: A personal injury overview

Did summer hit, or is it just me? With a quick snap of the fingers, we’re already in June with some fantastic weather. I’ll take it after a long, cold winter.

When we get nicer weather in Ontario, people are more inclined to ride their motorcycles and bikes. The rules of the road and the way personal injury law works in Ontario for motorcyclist and cyclists can get a bit tricky…but it shouldn’t.

The purpose of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post is to examine the law and how it relates to accidents involving motorcycles and bikes, and how this can differ (or be the same) from your normal car accident case.

  1. INSURANCE CONSIDERATIONS: The Highway Traffic Act and the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act requires that people who ride motor cycles to have proper insurance. It’s the law. You also need a special motorcycle license to operate a motorcycle in Ontario. If you’re driving without insurance on your motorcycle, or driving an uninsured or non-registered motorcycle, then you’re asking for trouble. Getting the compensation you deserve will prove difficult, because you may be in contravention of the law. But, with the assistance of a skilled personal injury lawyer, there may be a way to find insurance in an otherwise hopeless situation.  Bikes are a totally different beast. You don’t need insurance to ride a bike. You don’t need a license either. You can just pick up your bike and RIDE until your heart’s content. But here’s a quick fact pattern: You’re a cyclist and you ride your bike everywhere. You don’t have a driver’s license because you don’t need one. On your morning commute to your office in downtown Toronto, you get hit by a car and suffer catastrophic injuries. It turns out that the driver of the car was driving it illegally, without any insurance or proper registration. Even if you sue the at fault driver, where will the money come from?  You have no insurance to protect yourself. The at fault driver didn’t have insurance either! And now you’re stuck in a hospital bed at Sunnybrook Hospital in the Critical Care Unit looking at months and months, if not years to recover. This can happen and our lawyers have seen it happen. This is why we encourage cyclists to have their own car insurance, even if they don’t drive! You read that right! By having insurance, you’re protecting yourself in the event of a serious collision by an uninsured or under insured motorist. I agree that the at fault driver was at fault. But if that at fault driver has no insurance, and no assets, what are you going to do? Sue a person who has no money for millions? That judgment/award will be valueless. The most you can hope to recover in that scenario is $200,000 from the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund. That $200,000 is a fraction of the amount which you could have recovered had you had your own insurance. And that $200,000 will be blown through very quickly if your injuries are catastrophic
  2. HELMETS: Here is what the Highway Traffic Act says when it comes to wearing helmets on a motorcycle or on a bike:

Motorcycle and bicycle helmets

Motorcyclists to wear helmet

104. (1) No person shall ride or operate a motorcycle or motor assisted bicycle on a highway unless the person is wearing a helmet that complies with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the chin.


(2) No person shall carry a passenger who is under sixteen years of age on a motorcycle on a highway unless the passenger is wearing a helmet that complies with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the chin.

Bicyclists to wear helmet

(2.1) Subject to subsection 103.1 (2), no person shall ride or operate a bicycle on a highway unless the person is wearing a bicycle helmet that complies with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the chin.

Duty of parent or guardian

(2.2) No parent or guardian of a person under sixteen years of age shall authorize or knowingly permit that person to ride a bicycle, other than a power-assisted bicycle, on a highway unless the person is wearing a bicycle helmet as required by subsection

The term “Highway” is a term of art under the Highway Traffic Act. That means that “highway” doesn’t mean exactly what you think it means. Under the Act, Highway is defined as:bL_February_2016.indd

highway” includes a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct or trestle, any part of which is intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles and includes the area between the lateral property lines thereof

Here’s a great law from s.178(2) of the Highway Traffic Act specifically for 2 people riding on a 1 person bike:

Bicycle passengers

(2) No person riding or operating a bicycle designed for carrying one person only shall carry any other person thereon.

There are plenty of other laws which relate specifically to motorcycle and bike accidents in Ontario which you probably aren’t familiar with because they often aren’t enforced by local police. But, these laws are available to the police whenever they’d like to use them. We have seen a lot of cases whereby cyclists are ticketed for riding their bikes on the sidewalk, even though they’ve been injured by a negligent motorist in a car accident. The police will look to ticket to cyclist for riding on the side walk. Our personal injury lawyers have seen at least 4 of those cases in London, ON were the London City Police have been aggressive in issuing these tickets even though the cyclist appears to have done nothing wrong other than ride their bike on the sidewalk. Even though a motorist may have ran a red light, the police are still aggressive in issuing these sort of tickets.

Is that fair? No, it’s not. But when you’re riding your bike or motorcycle, one wrong turn can spell the difference between a nice leisurely drive and a serious accident; so be careful.


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