Car accident law shouldn’t be confusing. But it is!
Workplace injury law shouldn’t be confusing either. But it is!
Part of the reason that both car accident law and workplace injury law are both so confusing is because there are man made laws behind both; which usurp natural law.
For car accident claims we look to the Insurance Act and the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule. Both pieces of legislation are dense; and require that the injured claimant complete a bunch of confusing standard forms.
For workplace injury claims we look to the Workplace Safety Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act along with the First Aid Requirements Regulation 1101
These pieces of legislation are also dense, and require that the injured worker complete a bunch of confusing standard forms.
You cannot sue your car insurer in regular Court over an accident benefit dispute for a car accident claim. Instead you must start a proceeding before the License Appeals Tribunal or LAT in the Automobile Accident Benefits Service or AABS
You cannot sue your employer in regular Court over a workplace accident. Instead you must start a proceeding before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board or WSIB.
But what happens when you’ve been driving a work vehicle, and you get into a car accident?
Is this considered a car accident such that you need to pursue an accident benefit claim?
Or is this considered a workplace accident and you need to pursue a worker’s compensation claim?
Or can the injured party claim both car insurance benefits and worker’s compensation benefits simultaneously?
For starters, you can only choose one route. You can’t have both sets of benefits! If you go the WSIB route, you cannot go the accident benefit route. And if you chose the accident benefit route, you cannot also go the WSIB route at the same time.
If you opt to select the accident benefit route, the injured party will also have the option of suing the at fault driver for his/her injuries. For many injured parties, this option to sue the at fault party is the greatest incentive towards choosing the accident benefit route over the WSIB route.
If you opt the accident benefit route, you MUST undertake to SUE as well; and provide proof to your accident benefit insurer that you are in fact pursuing a third party claim against the at fault driver. If you are at fault of the car accident; then the accident benefit route may not be an option if you are the party responsible for the accident. In that scenario, the WSIB route may be the best route to take.
The other thing which makes the accident benefit route more attractive is that the benefits available to the injured party are more lucrative than WSIB benefits. If you are seriously injured, there is likely more money and benefits available to you by making an accident benefit claim as oppose to electing the WSIB route.
If you chose the WSIB route, you are foregoing your right to sue the at fault driver or the other party. Sometimes you have no choice. In the case whereby you get into a car accident with your Schedule 1 with another Schedule 1 work vehicle (owned by a different employer); you MUST go through the WSIB route. That may not make logical sense, but that’s the law. One Schedule 1 employee cannot sue another Schedule 1 employer; even if the injured claimant is NOT employed by the at fault employer! This is a classic example of how man made laws (like the Insurance Act and the Workplace Safety Act) do not correlate with natural law. It would make sense that the injured employee can sue for the negligence caused by another person in the course of his/her unrelated employment. But that’s not the case. Even if the employees work for two completely different companies; and they are both Schedule 1 employees; they cannot sue one another because of the way the Workplace Safety Act is laid out. This gets confusing for many people to understand because it works against common logic. But who ever said that the law had to be logical? In fact, the more you understand about the law, the more that you will see that it’s crafted to protect large, well connected business interests.
Here’s another example:
If you are awarded damages for your injuries in a slip and fall case, dog bit case, assault case, sexual assault case; or pretty much any other personal injury case NOT caused by a motor vehicle, there are no barriers to recovery, deductibles or monetary threshold which need to be established. Your damages or injuries; no matter how big or how small have value which is compensable at law.
But, if you sustain the exact SAME INJURY in a car accident or motor vehicle accident case; those very same injuries are subject to a statutory deducible of $39,754.31. This figure goes up year after year with inflation. In addition, the same injuries caused in a car accident are also subject to a legal threshold for recovery (serious and permanent injury of an important bodily function). Should those injuries not surpass this legal threshold; then the case is worth nothing; regardless of fault!
How is it that these protections only exist for the Defendants; and on top of that; only exist specifically for Defendants in car accident cases?
The reason is that the very large and powerful car insurance lobby has influenced the government to craft the law in a way which best favours their interests and their bottom line. These laws don’t protect every day people; or even very wealthy people for that matter! Rather the laws protect large corporate interests which don’t have the ability to cast a vote in elections. It’s for these very reasons that our car accident laws and forms are so onerous against accident victims, and so complicated. Add to that the insistence of insurance companies to drag cases out and have them tried by a reluctant jury who has to take time off work and isn’t getting paid for their time; you have a tough hill to climb for all Plaintiffs across Ontario.