Injured party

Eligibility criteria
Process and timelines
Paying for interim medical rehabilitiation (known defendant)
Steps to access the fund (known defendant)
Accessing the fund (unknown at-fault driver)
Paying for interim medical rehabilitation (unknown at-fault driver)
Time limits
Maximum compensation
Common reasons claims are denied

Eligibility criteria

In order to be eligible to make a claim against the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims program (MVAC) the following criteria must be met:

  1. You must have suffered bodily injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident; property damage is NOT covered by the program.
  2. You must be a resident of Alberta or be from a jurisdiction that has a program similar to MVAC that would cover Albertans out-of-province.
  3. The motor vehicle accident must have occurred within Alberta.
  4. The accident must be the fault of an uninsured or unknown driver.
  5. Liability for the motor vehicle accident must rest solely with an uninsured or unknown driver.

Process and timelines

Providing notice of potential claim to MVAC

For all motor vehicle accidents where a claim may be made against MVAC it is recommended that you provide MVAC with notice of your potential claim as soon as possible.  For motor vehicle accidents involving an unknown driver (often hit-and-runs) the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act requires that MVAC be provided with notice of a potential claim within 90 calendar days of the accident.  Failure to provide such notice is grounds for denial of the claim.

Filing a lawsuit

To seek compensation under the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act, you must sue all person(s) who are or may be liable for the accident and the resulting injuries. Failure to provide such notice is grounds for denial of the claim. Generally, you have 2 years from the date of the motor vehicle accident to file your lawsuit. 

In the case of an unknown defendant, the lawsuit should be brought against, “The Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act”. 

Serving the defendant

(a) Known Parties

You must serve the defendant with the Statement of Claim. If the defendant cannot be personally served, you will need to get an order for substitutional service. You cannot serve the Administrator (or his counsel) in lieu of serving the defendant.  Some form of service is required; you cannot get an order dispensing with service

Once you have served the defendant, one of the following situations must occur for MVAC to become involved with your claim, as per Section 4 of the MVA:

(b)  Unknown Parties

The lawsuit is brought against the Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act.  Because the Administrator is a nominal defendant, he will not be noted in default as a named defendant would. 

Required documentation

(a) Known Parties

In order for MVAC to become involved in your claim the defendant(s) must be served and be noted in default. Once this has occurred the following documentation must be provided to MVAC for a file to be opened: 

  1. Proof of non-insurance
  2. Statement of Claim
  3. Affidavit of service
  4. Praecipe to note in default
  5. Police Report
  6. Medical Records
  7. List of Special Damages & Supporting Documents

(b) Unknown Parties

If you are involved in a claim against an unknown defendant the following documentation will be required:

  1. Statement of Claim
  2. Police Report
  3. Medical Records
  4. List of Special Damages & Supporting Documents

Please note that until all required documentation has been provided to MVAC,  a file cannot be opened and the normal process of negotiation and/or litigation cannot proceed. 

Receiving funds

Once it has been determined you are eligible to receive funds from MVAC and the amount of your claim has been determined, the following documentation will be required:

(a)  Known Defendant(s)

  1. Consent Judgment
  2. Statutory Declaration
  3. Certificate
  4. Assignment of Judgment
  5. Affidavit of Service 

The Assignment of Judgment must be served on the defendant.

(b) Unknown Driver(s):

  1. Statutory Declaration
  2. Certificate

A letter of instruction will be provided with the forms. It is your responsibility to ensure that the instructions are followed and that the completed forms and judgment are provided to MVAC. Forms have to be completed correctly or they will be rejected.

Under s.5 of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act payment may be refused if any of the following circumstances arise:

  • the Administrator was not served with notice;
  • the judgment was signed with the consent or agreement of the defendant, but without the consent of the Administrator; or
  • the lawsuit was not brought against all persons against whom the you might reasonably be considered as having a claim or prosecuted against every such person to judgment or dismissal.

All cheques are sent by mail. If you are represented by a lawyer, the cheque will be sent to him or her; if you are unrepresented, the cheque will be sent directly to you. Cheques are issued by the Minister of Finance and Enterprise you may experience some delay in receiving a cheque.

NOTE: If the plaintiff has a concurrent claim with the Administrator for interim medical benefits, this amount will be deducted from the settlement payment.

Paying for interim medical rehabilitation (known defendant)

Every insured person has access to medical payment through their own auto insurance policy (commonly known as “Section B medical benefits”). This may include pedestrians under certain circumstances. The maximum Section B medical benefits you can receive is $50,000 however; these benefits must be used within 2 years from the date of the accident. Further restrictions to this coverage can be viewed under the Automobile Accident Insurance Benefits Regulations (Subsection 1(2)) or by contacting your insurance provider.

If you were involved in an uninsured motor vehicle accident, you may still be covered by the insurance policy of a member of your household. You should check with your (and their) insurance company for more details.

If you have used up your own medical insurance coverage, and you have commenced a lawsuit, you may be able to apply to the defendant’s insurance company for payment of your ongoing expenses.  Section 636 of the Insurance Act permits the defendant’s insurer to pay for your medical costs on a “without prejudice” basis, meaning their payments to you are not an admission of their client’s liability.

If the defendant was uninsured, and you have exhausted all of your own section B medical coverage, you may be eligible to apply for  benefits under the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act for interim medical benefits however; this rare type of funding is considered only on a case by case basis. Contact the Medical Claims program for further details on eligibility and qualification criteria.

Steps to access the fund (known defendant)

The following outlines the steps you must take in order to make a claim against the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims program (MVAC) when the at-fault driver is KNOWN. This process will only occur if you have met ALL of the eligibility requirements.

Determine liability

Before MVAC becomes involved in your claim, it is important for you to thoroughly investigate any insurance coverage that may be available to cover your loss.  If there is ANY possible policy of insurance that could cover your loss, then MVAC will not be involved.  Therefore, if any other driver (including the driver of your vehicle if you were a passenger) or any other owner was even PARTIALLY at-fault for the accident, and that person is insured, MVAC will not be involved in your claim

The first principle governing MVAC is that it is the payer of LAST resort.
Specific conditions you should be aware of in determining liability include:

  1. If the vehicle owner denies that the uninsured driver had consent to drive the vehicle. If the uninsured driver was living with and is a member of the same household as the vehicle owner, this argument will not hold and the owner will still be considered at least partially liable.
  2. If a company denies coverage to an employee operating a work vehicle. Companies often cannot deny insurance to their employees even if they were not using the vehicle in the course of their employment.
  3. If the uninsured driver was intoxicated over the legal limit. It is important to investigate the circumstances of how the person became intoxicated and if the host (if there was one) fulfilled their obligations to prevent that person from driving.  This is particularly critical if the at-fault driver was drinking at a licensed establishment.
  4. If you contributed to the accident. You can still advance a claim against the other driver and owner if they were the ones who were PRIMARILY at-fault for the accident.  However, your claim as a victim might be diminished because you were also partially at-fault or did not do enough to avoid the accident.
  5. If you were in a taxi, bus or limousine. It is your obligation to get as much information at the scene of an accident.  If you do not fulfill this responsibility in a reasonable way, MVAC can deny payment on your claim. However if you were a customer in a vehicle operating as a commercial vehicle for hire or a common carrier, the driver and owner of that vehicle may also have certain obligations to you. Professional drivers have a duty to acquire information on your behalf at the accident scene and safeguard the information in case of a future lawsuit.  If the driver did not do this or was not trained to do this, the company and/or driver may be liable for your damages.

File a lawsuit

To seek compensation under the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act, you must sue the person(s) who are liable for the accident and your injuries. This is so that if MVAC is called upon to make a payment to an injured person it can later recover its payment from the at-fault person.  You may want to hire a lawyer to assist you in determining whether you can be compensated under the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act and to help you fulfill the necessary legal steps to receive a settlement. If you wish, you may also begin your own lawsuit without a lawyer. To learn more about commencing your own civil lawsuit, visit Alberta Justice – Civil Claims

You have two options as to where you can file your lawsuit: Provincial Court or Court of Queen’s Bench.  The following details regarding each option should be considered when deciding where to file your lawsuit:

Provincial Court:

  1. maximum payment you can receive is $50,000
  2. viewed as faster, less expensive and less legally complicated
  3. terminology differences (eg. Statement of Claim is referred to as Civil Claim)

Court of Queen’s Bench:

  1. you can seek damages higher than $50,000 (keep in mind the maximum payout you can receive from MVAC is $200,000)
  2. viewed as more procedurally complex

Serving the Defendant

Under the Alberta Rules of Court you must deliver a copy of the lawsuit, called a Statement of Claim, to the defendant. This process is referred to as serving the defendant. You must also give the defendant an opportunity to file a Statement of Defence.  If they do not file a Statement of Defence within 20 days (or such other period as may be allowed by court order), they can lose the opportunity to defend themselves.  This process is referred to as noting in default. Only once the defendant has been noted in default, can MVAC become involved in settling or defending against your claim.

If the defendant cannot be personally served, you will need to get an order for substitutional service. This means that if you can prove that you tried to find and/or serve the defendant but were unsuccessful, the Court may permit you to serve the defendant by other means such as serving a relative of the defendant or an adult at the same address of the defendant.  You can’t serve the Administrator (or his counsel) in lieu of serving the defendant because of sections 4(10) and 19 of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act. In Alberta, you cannot get an order from the Court exempting you from delivering a copy of the lawsuit to the defendant.  This process is referred to as dispensing with service and is not allowed.

Notice of Potential Claim

If you wish, you can provide MVAC with written notice of a potential claim even before action is commenced and a defendant is noted in default. This allows MVAC to open a file and, when appropriate, begin a preliminary investigation into the claim.

Open a file with MVAC

Once action has been commenced and the at-fault party has been served and noted in default notice of the claim must be provided to MVAC. That notice must be accompanied by a copy of the Statement of Claim or civil claim, as the case may be, a copy of the Affidavit of Service and the Noting in Default together with any other materials that may have been filed with the Clerk of the Court. Upon receipt of the notice MVAC may, at any time within 30 days, notify you that it intends to undertake an investigation of the claim, whereupon no further steps may be taken in the action for a further period of 30 days. As part of that investigation the following information/documentation must be provided to MVAC

  1. Proof that the at-fault party is uninsured. 
  2. A copy of the certificate of auto insurance for your vehicle.
  3. A copy of the Collision Report.
  4. Any available medical information including medical reports, IME reports, medical, chiropractic and physiotherapy charts or treatment notes as well as medical receipts.
  5. Alberta Health Care Statements as far back as possible before the accident to the present.
  6. Details of any special damage claim which may be advanced together with copies of any supporting documentation. If a loss of income claim is being advanced copies of pay stubs and wage receipts for the year prior to the accident, and income tax returns for the three years prior to the accident to the present should be included.
  7. Any documentation relating to Section B Benefits or any other insurance or government benefits received as a result of the accident and any injuries that may have been suffered.
  8. Advice as to whether you have been involved in any accidents before or after the accident giving rise to your claim.
  9. Details of the damage to your vehicle, including photographs.

    NOTE: Your file cannot be assigned to a Bodily Injury Adjuster to begin the investigation until ALL of the required information/documentation has been provided to MVAC.

    If, after the investigation has begun but before you are advised that it has been completed you intend to take any further steps in the action you must advise MVAC and provide MVAC with sufficient opportunity to respond.

After providing MVAC with the above documentation, do not take any further legal steps for at least 30 days. This will allow ample time for MVAC to review your file. After 30 days you must notify MVAC in advance and in writing of any further legal steps you intend to take, and give MVAC sufficient opportunity to attend at Court or formally object to whatever step you are taking.

Determining your compensation

After MVAC has been provided with all required documentation, a file will be opened and assigned to a Bodily Injury Adjuster. The adjuster will review the documentation to ensure everything they require has been provided. They will then conduct investigations to look further into insurance, liability and to determine what compensation, if any, is appropriate for the bodily injuries you suffered.  Investigating these factors and determining an appropriate payment can result in a lengthy negotiation period between MVAC and you, and may require that your claim proceed further with the litigation process. This may include going to pretrial hearings know as “questioning” or trial.

Receiving payment

Once an agreement has been reached on the amount of money you will receive for your damages, you will be required to draft a consent judgment.  A consent judgment is simply a written document, signed by a judge or court clerk that states the amount of money that MVAC agreed to pay you for your injuries.  This needs to be sent to MVAC to receive the approval and signature of the Administrator’s lawyer before it is submmitted to the court for signature. The signed consent judgment will be returned to you for filing with the courts, together with the forms you must complete in order to apply for payment.  Forms you will have to complete include:

  1. Statutory Declaration - written document, witnessed as true, that outlines all the final details of your claim
  2. Certificate - written document, certifying that your lawyer has explained to you the process of how they will receive payment for their services, as defined by the Alberta Rules of Court.
  3. Assignment of Judgment - written document, outlining the parties involved and the final settlement. 
  4. Affidavit of Service - written document, sworn under oath and notarized, stating you have served the Assignment of Judgment on the defendant.

A letter of instruction will be provided with the forms. It is your responsibility to follow the instructions and then send the completed forms and judgment to MVAC. The Assignment of Judgment must be served on the defendant, or their counsel, before your payment can be made.  If you cannot locate the defendant, you must get an order of substitutional service. The Administrator does not have to sign the Assignment of Judgment before you serve it on the defendant (Section 5(4)).

All cheques are sent by mail, and are sent to your lawyer or directly to you if you are not represented. There may be a delay in receiving your payment as cheques are issued by the Minister of Finance and Enterprise, not by MVAC.

NOTE: If you received interim funding for your medical rehabilitation, this amount will be deducted from the settlement payment.

Accessing the fund (unknown at-fault driver)

Determine liability

MVAC will normally cover your personal injury damages even if you didn’t get the identification of the at-fault driver and/or owner. However, it is expected that  you to take reasonable steps to try to determine who was at-fault for the accident, including getting details at the scene, cooperating with the police, and canvassing for witnesses.

File a lawsuit

Once you have made a reasonable effort to determine who was at fault, you still must file a lawsuit. You may want to hire a lawyer to assist you in determining whether you can be compensated under the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act and to help you fulfill the necessary legal steps to conclude settlement of your claim. If you wish, you may also begin your own lawsuit without a lawyer.  To learn more about commencing your own civil lawsuit, visit Alberta Justice – Civil Claims

In either case, the lawsuit should be brought against, “The Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act”.

You have two options as to where you can file your lawsuit: Provincial Court or Court of Queen’s Bench. The following details regarding each option should be considered when deciding where to file your lawsuit:

Provincial Court:

  • maximum payment you can receive is $25,000
  • viewed as faster, less expensive and less legally complicated
  • terminology differences (ex. Statement of Claim is referred to as Civil Claim)

Court of Queen’s Bench:

  • you can seek damages higher than $25,000 (keep in mind the maximum payout you can receive from MVAC is $200,000)
  • viewed as more procedurally complex

Because the Administrator is only a nominal defendant, he will not be noted in default as a named defendant would be. 

Because it is important for MVAC to begin the investigation into an accident involving an unknown owner or driver, notice of a potential claim must be provided to the Administrator within 90 days of the accident.

Open a file with MVAC

After bringing forth your lawsuit you must provide the following documentation to MVAC for a file to be opened:

  1. Statement of Claim (A copy of the lawsuit, also referred to as Pleadings.)
  2. Police Report
  3. Medical Records

In drafting your Statement of Claim, you may (but are not required to) describe any unidentified owners/operators as “John/Jane Doe #1, “John/Jane Doe #2, etc.  Unknown corporate defendants are typically described as “ABC Corporation”.

Determining your compensation

After MVAC has been provided with all required documentation, a file will be opened and assigned to a Bodily Injury Adjuster. The adjuster will review the documentation to ensure everything they require has been provided. They will then conduct investigations to look further into insurance, liability and determining what payment, if any, is appropriate considering the bodily injuries you suffered.  Investigating these factors and determining appropriate compensation can result in a lengthy negotiation period between MVAC and you (or your counsel), and may require that you proceed further with the litigation process.  This may include going to pretrial hearings know as “questioning” or trial.

Receiving payments

Once an agreement has been reached on the amount of money you will receive for your damages, you will be required to draft a consent judgment reflecting this settlement.  A consent judgment is simply a written document, signed by a judge or court clerk that states the amount of money that MVAC agreed to pay you for your injuries. This needs to be sent to MVAC to receive the approval and signature of the Administrator’s lawyer before it is submmitted to the court for signature. The signed consent judgment will be returned to you for filing with the courts, together with the forms you must complete in order to apply for payment.  Forms you will have to complete include:

  1. Statutory Declaration - written document, witnessed as true, that outlines all the final details of your claim. 
  2. Certificate - written document, certifying that your lawyer has explained to you the process of how they will receive payment for their services, as defined by the Alberta Rules of Court. 

A letter of instruction will be provided with the forms. It is your responsibility to follow the instructions and then send the completed forms and judgment to MVAC. All cheques are sent by mail, and are sent to your lawyer, if you are represented or directly to you if you are not represented. There may be a delay in receiving your payment as cheques are issued by the Minister of Finance and Enterprise, not MVAC.
NOTE: If you received interim funding for your medical rehabilitation, this amount will be deducted from the settlement payment.

Paying for interim medical rehabilitation (unknown at-fault driver)

Every insured person has access to funding for medical expenses through their own auto insurance policy (commonly known as “Section B coverage”). This includes pedestrians. The maximum Section B coverage you can receive is $50,000 however; these benefits must be used within 2 years from the date of the accident.  Further restrictions to this coverage can be viewed under the Automobile Accident Insurance Benefits Regulations (Subsection 1(2)) or by contacting your insurance provider.

If you were uninsured in a motor vehicle accident, you may still be covered by the insurance policy of another member of your household.  You should check with your (and their) insurance company for more details.

If you have used up your own medical insurance coverage, and you have commenced a lawsuit, you may be able to apply to the defendant’s insurance company for payment of your ongoing expenses. Section 636 of the Insurance Act permits the defendant’s insurer to pay for your medical costs on a “without prejudice” basis, meaning their payments to you are not an admission of their client’s liability.

If the defendant was uninsured, and you have exhausted all of your own section B medical coverage, you may be eligible to apply to our program for reimbursement of your interim medical expenses. This funding is provided by a separate program, the Medical Claims program, and only happens in rare circumstances. Contact the Medical Claims program for further details on eligibility and qualification criteria.

Time limits

The following time limits exist for the various steps you must take to involve MVAC with your claim:

  1. Notice of a potential claim should be provided to MVAC as soon as possible, but must be provided within 90 calendar days of the accident in the case of an unknown driver (ie. Hit and run).
  2. Filing a lawsuit – must be completed within 2 years from the date of the accident.
  3. Serving the Statement of Claim on the defendant  – must be completed within 1 year after the lawsuit is filed unless the court otherwise orders.

Once these two steps are completed, you must take reasonable and timely steps to keep your lawsuit moving forward.
NOTE: If you fail to take steps to significantly advance your lawsuit and move it forward for 2 years your lawsuit may be dismissed by the Court for long delay.

Maximum compensation

MVAC’s maximum combined payment for all victims of an accident is $200,000. If there is more than one claimant to an accident, and the total value of all claims exceeds $200,000, then each claimant will receive a proportional share of the $200,000 maximum. 

If your injuries are serious enough that your settlement exceeds MVAC’s $200,000 payment limit, you may be able to get additional compensation from your insurance company if you purchased optional insurance coverage. This type of optional insurance, called a Family Protection Endorsement, or “SEF 44”, protects Albertans if they are seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident and the at-fault person didn’t carry sufficient liability insurance.  If you carry this coverage, it will be necessary for you to name your SEF 44 insurance carrier in your lawsuit in order to access these funds.

Common reasons claims are denied

The following outlines some common reasons a claim may be denied:

  • Some other insured party is at least partially liable for your injuries;
  • You did not commence and pursue your action against all persons against whom you might reasonably be considered as having a claim against;
  • You have not met all of the eligibility criteria;
  • You did not fulfill your responsibility to get as much information as possible at the scene of the accident;
  • You let someone out of your lawsuit (i.e. discontinued someone) that MVAC believes could have been at fault;
  • You didn’t involve MVAC in discussions between yourself and the defendant that led to a consent judgment (where the defendant is defending their case);
  • You did not file a lawsuit within 2 years of the date of the accident;
  • You did not provide the Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act with notice of your potential claim within 90 days of the accident (for an unknown at-fault person);
  • You did not serve the Statement of Claim on the defendant within one year of filing a lawsuit; or
  • Once started you did not take steps to significantly advance your lawsuit and move it forward, for a period of 2 years.

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