What is an uninsured driver?
An “uninsured driver” is a driver without the legally required insurance coverage.
The minimum mandatory insurance coverage for drivers in Alberta is third-party liability insurance to the value of $200,000. The majority of policies in Alberta carry in excess of $1,000,000 in liability coverage.
What do you do if you’re hit by an uninsured driver?
If you are involved in an accident with a driver who turns out to be uninsured, the fundamental steps to take immediately after the accident are the same as with an insured driver.
Be sure to call the police to ensure that a formal report of the accident is made and also contact first responders to help deal with any medical emergencies have been taken care of. When safe to do so, move the vehicles to a safe location to exchange information with the other driver, take pictures, and speak with any witnesses that may have seen the accident.
If the at-fault driver has left the scene (“hit and run”), this should be reported to the police as well and they may be able to find the driver that caused the accident.
Even if you are injured in an accident involving an uninsured or hit-and-run driver, there are potential options to recover compensation for your injuries and losses. As such, it may be worth a call to a personal injury lawyer if you have been injured in this type of accident.
What is MVAC and how can it help?
The Government of Alberta introduced the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims program (MVAC) to help victims of accidents caused by uninsured, under-insured or unidentified drivers.
For instance, if the driver flees the scene of the accident, there is nobody to sue for your losses and, if you have been injured, you may be able to bring a claim and recover damages from the MVAC program.
Likewise, if the car owner’s insurance policy has lapsed, the driver’s insurance company will refuse to cover the insured individual and recovery for damages often begins through MVAC.
As a victim, you may be able to claim up to $200,000 per accident through MVAC. However, if there is more than one victim in the accident, this payment will be split between the victims. If the claim(s) exceed $200,000, then there are other potential means to recover damages, including through ones own insurance policy.
Claims and requirements for MVAC
As a government-run program, MVAC is tightly monitored and subject to strict eligibility criteria. Steps are taken to ensure that it is used only as a last resort for victims.
To be eligible for a claim, you must meet each of the following criteria:
- The accident occurred in Alberta
- You are a resident of Alberta or of a jurisdiction with a similar program in place that covers out-of-province Albertans
- You suffered bodily injury as a result of the accident
- The liability for the accident rests entirely with an uninsured or unknown driver
Furthermore, to be eligible, you are supposed to provide written notification of the accident to the program Administrator of MVAC within 90 days of the accident occurring.
For hit and run accidents, “all reasonable efforts” must have been made by the parties to “ascertain the identity of the unknown owner and operator”.
To be eligible for compensation from the program in the case of an uninsured driver, you must issue a statement of claim against that driver, naming them as a defendant and serving the claim. MVAC will then step in to defend the claim once the defendant is noted in default after they fail to defend the claim.
Challenges with MVAC and how a lawyer can help
If you are an injured victim in a hit and run accident or an accident where the driver is uninsured, your immediate medical bills may be paid by your insurance policy (“Section B” medical benefits).
MVAC may be an excellent last-resort option for compensation but, because of the strict eligibility criteria and deadlines at play, difficulties may arise with your claim.
If you fail to act promptly and submit the necessary documentation, your claim with the administrator of the MVAC program may be denied—leaving you out of pocket for an accident that was no fault of yours.
As experienced personal injury lawyers, we look to all avenues for which an individual may be compensated for their injuries and losses in order to ensure your rights are protected in accidents involving uninsured or unknown drivers.
So that there are no delays, speak to one of the experienced personal injury lawyers at Vogel LLP in Calgary as soon as possible.