Underinsured Defendants

February 13, 2015 | Cynthia P. Carels

The story of Edmonton bicyclist Rylan Kafara has caught the attention of many Albertans this week. Kafara has been handed a $6,200.00 bill for damages he allegedly caused to an SUV in 2013, while riding his bike. Although Kafara was injured in the accident, the SUV’s insurance company contends that he is responsible for damage to their insured’s vehicle.

Unlike most drivers of motorized vehicles, bicycle riders may not think they need to carry liability insurance. However, the possibility of negligently causing damage to someone else (by hurting them and/or their property) when riding a bike is still very real.  The same holds for skateboarding, skiing, rollerblading, etc.  In such cases, homeowner/ tenant insurance may provide defendants with personal liability coverage, if they have added that to their policy.

At the same time, the possibility of being injured in a motor vehicle accident by an uninsured, or underinsured, driver is also very real. The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act  has established a fund for such cases in Alberta. Payments, however, are limited to $200,000.00 and this fund will not pay for property damage.

In order to further protect against damages caused by underinsured drivers, Albertans can also purchase “SEF 44” coverage as an endorsement on their own motor vehicle insurance policies.  This family protection endorsement can give you additional coverage (not exceeding the liability limits of your own policy) in the event someone in your household is injured in a motor vehicle accident by a defendant without enough insurance.

If you have been hurt in an accident by someone without adequate insurance, do not be deterred from contacting a lawyer about pursuing your rights. Miller Thomson’s personal injury lawyers understand the insurance system, and will explore all sources of potential coverage, even if the defendant in your claim failed to do the same before they hurt you.


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