Since May 10, 2011, Ontario riders on public transit vehicles who sustain injuries can no longer pursue accident benefits if the public transit vehicle they were riding in “did not collide with another automobile or any other object in the incident” as stipulated by section 268(1.1) of the Insurance Act R.S.O. 1990, c. I.8.
The consequences of this provision often referred to in the legal profession as the “no crash, no cash rule” prevents injured victims on public transit vehicles from pursing accident benefits if there was NOT a collision.
As long as there is no collision involved, (which is often the case) accident benefits coverage for imminent medical and rehabilitation expenses, income replacement, attendant care or other treatment expenses are simply not available.
This is problematic for people injured on public transit vehicles following sudden breaking or acceleration events resulting in injury. These are often people who require accident benefits coverage the most, many of whom may not have employment or collateral insurance of their own to pay for such immediate and ongoing treatment.
The trade off to this “no crash no cash rule” is that victims injured on public transit vehicles may be able to pursue a tort claim against the public transit company and operator without their claim being subject to the “statutory threshold” or “deductible”, which are difficult hurdles for claimants to overcome. However, the Plaintiff would need to likely wait years for the case to resolve before seeing any money while their medical bills continue to accumulate.
Furthermore, for the Plaintiff to successfully recover any money through a tort claim, they would need to prove fault on the part of the public transit operator, which can be a difficult feat, especially when the heavy breaking is justified. On the other hand, had accident benefits coverage been available, fault would not have been a required element to prove.
However, section 224 of the Insurance Act sets out the meaning of “public transit” which explicitly states that it “does not include special transportation facilities for persons with disabilities or transportation by special purpose facilities such as school buses or ambulance”. In addition to ambulances and school buses, this would seem to include Paratransit buses such as wheeltrans and possibly other types of public transit vehicles such as airport shuttle buses or rail replacement bus services.
It will be interesting to see how the case law develops in this area to determine the exceptions to the “no crash no cash rule”.