The Basics: What is the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund?
Despite being mandated by law, it is not too uncommon to find an uninsured motorist using Ontario’s streets and highways. When collisions involving these drivers occur, a clear path for recovering damages may not be readily apparent. The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF) can serve as a useful last resort to allow injured plaintiffs to receive compensation in facilitating their recovery when these collisions occur.
The MVACF is a fund established by the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act and managed by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario. The Fund aids those seeking benefits that would otherwise be made available through automobile insurance schemes, including medical care benefits, death and funeral benefits, and compensation relating to incurred property damage. As alluded to, however, the Act is careful to hold the MVACF as a last line of recovery for affected plaintiffs: its provisions are careful to limit the number of scenarios for which one can claim from the Fund, and further limits the amount of recoverable funds to $200,000 per incident.
The Framework for an MVACF Claim:
The practical nature of interacting with the MVACF is best modelled through a step-by-step breakdown of the relevant provisions of the Act. It is perhaps most helpful to consider this process in three stages: i) the particulars of the incident, ii) the nature of the applicant, and iii) the judgment received at any of the province’s courts.
The Subject Accident
To receive the benefits offered by the MVACF, the subject incident must be of a particular, recognized nature. The Act explicitly names two situations where collection from the Fund, through an action against the Director of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund, is possible – where the identity of the vehicle cannot be established (s. 12), and where the identity of the owner is known but that of the driver cannot be established (s. 15). Ontario’s courts have interpreted the Act to further include incidents involving uninsured drivers, uninsured pedestrians or cyclists who cannot trace the driver that struck them, and incidents involving stolen vehicles. Finally, the course of the subject incident must have resulted in personal injury and/or property damage exceeding $100 to permit recovery.
The Plaintiff’s Role
The Act further requires certain characteristics and actions of the plaintiff to apply for the support of the Fund. First, the injured plaintiff must be an ordinary resident of Ontario, or ordinarily reside in a jurisdiction with a reciprocal offering to Ontario residents, to receive compensation. In addition, the Act details that assuming failure in identifying the responsible defendant driver, motor vehicle, or motor vehicle owner will bar one’s attempt at recovery. Instead, for the claim against the Director to proceed, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable efforts in attaining this information, and that the information either does not exist, or is not reasonably recoverable.
Where one intends on receiving accident benefits, their claim must be accompanied by a completed Statutory Accident Benefits Application (OCF-1), a copy of the relevant police report, and, where necessary, an insurer’s letter indicating that one’s own insurance policy was not in effect at the time of the subject incident. To make a claim for property damage, a copy of the relevant police report, a damage estimate or repair invoice, and a similar insurer’s letter will be required.
To receive amounts through the Fund, an injured plaintiff must commence an action against the Director of the MVACF. Section 3(1) of the Act provides this linkage, presuming the Director as inheriting a role of agency over all owners and operators of uninsured motor vehicles in the province.
The obligation of the Fund to pay the unsatisfied balance of a plaintiff’s claim is rooted in the contents of Section 7(1) of the Act. According to Section 7(1), a judgment from any Ontario court relating to the injury or death of an involved person, or to the damage of one’s property, will allow that person to apply to the Fund for the identified amount. Furthermore, the provision states that the Director shall pay this amount out of the Fund, with the only caveat coming in a minimum threshold of a $100 damage to property, if that aspect is being claimed. The verbiage used in this provision provides little room for the Director to wiggle out of granting compensation without the determination of a judge, as detailed in section 7(2).
Motor vehicle accidents involving uninsured or unidentifiable persons or vehicles force injured plaintiffs to take an alternative route to attaining benefits or compensation in making them whole again. As a line of last resort, the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund allows Ontarians the opportunity to have these basic needs covered and fulfilled in the absence of an insurer to point their finger at. For Ontarians fulfilling the comprehensive criteria outlined by the Act, $200,000 remains available for them in facilitating this process. An integral escape route in matters that may otherwise appear to present a dead-end in restoring the injured plaintiff, the value of applying for the MVACF should not be forgotten.
Call Littlejohn Barristers in Barrie for more information on motor vehicle accident cases.
 Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M. 41 [Act].  Ibid s. 23.  Ibid ss. 12, 15.  Seetal v. Quiroz, 2009 CanLII 92114 (ON SC)  Galbraith v. Intact Insurance Company, 2019 145 OR (3d) 344 ONSC 1875 (CanLII), Blanchard v. Ontario (Superintendent of Insurance), 1996 OJ No 4689 (QL), CanLII 8049 (ON SC)  Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery, “Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund” (April 17, 2023), online: Ontario.ca https://www.ontario.ca/page/motor-vehicle-accident-claims-fund#section-1 [“Fund”].  Act, supra note 1 s. 4(2).  Act, supra note 1 s. 25(1).  Ibid s. 17.  Ibid.  “Fund”, supra note 3.  Ibid.  Act, supra note 1 s. 3.  Ibid.  Ibid s. 7(1).  Ibid.  Ibid.  Ibid s. 7(2).