Prepared by Paul Lalonde, Articling Student

Public transportation in Ottawa is a popular choice for many downtown commuters and students alike. Although public transportation is generally a safe option for passengers, accidents involving buses occasionally do occur.

Passengers involved in bus accidents may be entitled to recover damages as a result of their injuries. Depending on the facts and the circumstances surrounding the accident, injured passengers may be entitled to file claims against the negligent party who was the cause of the accident (be that the bus driver, the driver of another vehicle or another party). However, passengers injured in a bus accident should be aware that the entitlement to accident benefits (which are accessed through an individual’s automobile insurance policy) can be restricted in certain circumstances when a bus is involved. 

Normally an individual who is injured in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of fault, is entitled to claim accident benefits through their own automobile policy. If they do not have their own insurance policy, then usually the policy of one of the vehicles involved in the accident will provide them benefits. This is part of Ontario’s “partial no fault system” insurance regime. These benefits provide for things like income replacement, medical care and attendant care. The benefits are normally accessible regardless of whether you are in a single vehicle accident (for example – your vehicle slides off the road and you are injured) or if multiple vehicles are involved. The only criteria for accessing the benefits is that you be involved in a “motor vehicle accident”.

If you are injured while travelling on a bus however, your accident benefits policy will only provide you with accident benefits if the bus was involved in a collision with another vehicle or object. The Better Tomorrow for Ontario Act, which has been dubbed the “No Crash, No Cash Act”, brought changes to the Insurance Act which prohibits individuals injured in bus accidents that do not involve collisions from being able to access accident benefits.  For example, if you are travelling on a bus and sustain an injury because the bus driver slammed on the brakes causing you to fall, you will not be entitled to access your accident benefits.    

As noted above, passengers involved in these “no crash” kind of scenarios may still able to file a law suit for damages if a negligent party is involved; but they are unable to access the accident benefits they would have been entitled to had they been injured travelling in a car instead of a bus.  

For more information on our personal injury services and practice area, please contact Caroline Failes, Partner, Head of the Personal Injury Law Group at cfailes@perlaw.ca or 613-566-2849. You can also visit PerlawPersonalInjury.ca.