It’s the end of the line for travelers’ appeal of an accident benefits case involving a dirt bike being driven in closed-course competition.
The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday denied the insurer’s leave to appeal. This means that a dirt bike driven in closed-course motocross competition is an “automobile” under Ontario’s motor vehicle accident compensation system, clearing the way for a seriously injured driver. to claim auto accident benefits from his auto insurer, as per the original Ontario Court decision. Appeal decision.
As usual, the Supreme Court of Canada has not rendered the reasons why the leave to appeal is denied.
The case involved the issue of whether an exemption under the Ontario Act Off-Road Vehicle Act (ORVA) applied to the off-road motorcycle driven by Michael Beaudin, who became paraplegic following an accident during the competition.
Beaudin was riding his off-road motorcycle during a motocross competition held on July 9, 2017, when he was seriously injured. He is now confined to a wheelchair. No other vehicles or individuals were involved in the incident.
Beaudin had an auto insurance policy with Travelers, but his dirt bike was not listed. He applied for accident benefits. Travelers Insurance Company of Canada denied accident benefits coverage on the basis that his dirt bike was not an “automobile”.
Ontario law basically states that a vehicle is considered an automobile if it requires insurance to drive. However, the province Off-Road Vehicle Act contains an exemption for “off-road vehicles driven or exhibited in a closed-course competition or rally sponsored by a motorcycle association”.
Related: Why a Mountain Bike Accident Victim Can Get Auto Accident Benefits in Ontario
Initially, the Ontario License Appeal Tribunal found that the competition sponsor, Canadian Motorsport Racing Competition, a for-profit corporation, was affiliated with the Alberta Motorcycle Sport Association, thus qualifying the CMRC as a motorcycle association sponsor.
Beaudin appealed and the associate president of the LAT reversed the decision. The Associate President ruled that CMRC did not qualify as a sponsor under ORVA’s definition of a “motorcycle association”, which states that a motorcycle association must have “a published constitution and list of members of more than twenty-four persons”.
The Travelers appealed, but the Ontario Divisional Court said the LAT’s decision that CMRC did not qualify as a sponsor under the ORVA exemption was a mixture of fact and law and does not therefore could not be appealed.
The Ontario Court of Appeal also ruled in favor of Beaudin, finding that ORVA should be read in conjunction with the public safety mandate of other Ontario vehicle laws (eg. Traffic LawsTHE Compulsory Motor Insurance Actand the Snowmobiles Act), which require universal insurance coverage for drivers of vehicles.
“It seems to me that allowing an exemption only for sponsored events is consistent with the public safety objective of the ORVAwrote Ontario Court of Appeal Judge Steve Coroza for the unanimous three-judge panel. “Sponsoring motorcycle associations would have safety protocols in place for competitions and closed-course rallies and could be counted on to promote public safety and the safe operation of competition vehicles.
“Indeed, the rules of a sponsored competition would likely prescribe what protective equipment must be worn. Although minimum age requirements may not be enforced, competitors would be subject to adult supervision. evidence presented before the LAT in this case that organized competitions also provide at least some level of insurance protection for participants.”
Image courtesy of iStock.com/SimonSkafar