Motor Vehicle Accident Recoveries
Motor Vehicle Accident Recoveries (MVAR) is the collection unit of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program (MVAC). MVAC compensates victims of bodily injury accidents, in which the at-fault party was uninsured, and determines the amount that at-fault parties must pay; MVAR subsequently enforces the MVAC judgment decisions by recovering the funds from the at-fault parties.
Overview of MVAC and MVAR Roles
Overview of MVAC and MVAR roles
When you are sued
If you are named as a defendant in a lawsuit, it is your right to defend yourself by filing a Statement of Defence or Demand of Notice within the prescribed deadline. If you fail to do so, and are noted in default, you have given up your right to a defence. In cases when you fail to file a defence or if your defence is struck out by a court, the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act then gives the MVAC Administrator the authority to act in your place to either defend or settle the lawsuit.
Once this occurs, you no longer have any legal standing in the conduct of the lawsuit. The MVAC Administrator has full authority under law to do whatever you could have done, including negotiating a settlement with the plaintiff. Since you have given up your right to a defence, the legal process will go forth without your involvement or consultation.
Any amount that MVAC consents to is a debt that you will then owe to MVAC and must repay. The Program’s maximum payout to victims is $200,000 per accident, plus legal costs, and that debt will be assigned against you. Therefore, if you believe that you have a strong defence, you may wish to seek legal advice before the time limit in the Statement of Claim is exceeded.
When a judgment is made against you
Initially, when a judgment is rendered against you, the documentation related to the judgment is sent to MVAR’s office, where a file is opened. Writs are registered against your personal property and land in the Alberta Registries. For more information on writs, refer to collection action.
When MVAR notifies you of the amount of your debt
To notify you about the judgment, MVAR will send you a Judgment Notification Letter to the most recent mailing address on your file. You are required by law to update the address information on your driver’s licence within 14 days (through any registry agent).
It is your responsibility to ensure that the contact information on your file is up-to-date. This applies when you are first notified by the court that a law suit has been commenced against you until the judgment is satisfied. If you fail to respond to correspondence in regard to your debt, no matter if the address on your file was up-to-date or not, MVAR will initiate collection actions in accordance with the Civil Enforcement Act and other applicable legislation.
Once you receive a Judgment Notification Letter, you must either pay off the judgment in full or apply to MVAR for the privilege of repaying the debt in installments. If MVAR approves your application for settlement in installments, you must agree on a repayment plan, select your preferred payment method, and begin paying off your debt.
Any failure to comply with your MVAR repayment arrangement will result in immediate suspension of your driving and vehicle registration privileges. The suspension is valid throughout Canada. MVAR may also take other legal action against you as permitted by law.
MVAR only deals with the bodily injuries aspect of your liabilities
It is important to distinguish MVAR’s role in regard to your case, because being involved in a motor vehicle collision can result in more than one claim against you depending on the circumstances of the accident. For example, being acquitted of the traffic violation is separate from being prosecuted in a criminal action for impaired driving or being sued in a civil action for injuries. If you have already paid your traffic violation fine, that does NOT mean that you are free from paying off the judgment for the bodily injuries to MVAR.
MVAR does not deal with any of the following other potential aspects of a motor vehicle accident:
- Property damage;
- Criminal Code or Traffic Safety Act fines (including driving without insurance).