Rainbow

Rainbow

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Court of Appeal reverses ATV decision - ATVs for farming are not self-propelled implements of husbandry

About a year ago, I posted about an Ontario Superior Court decision that found that an ATV was a "self-propelled implement of husbandry" for the purposes of the Insurance Act.  A farmer was involved in an accident on the road while he was driving an uninsured ATV; the Court found that he was not barred from recovering damages for his injuries by the legislation that says no recovery is permitted where the person was operating an uninsured motor vehicle on a highway.  Self-propelled implements of husbandry are not considered motor vehicles.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned this decision.  It found that the "motion judge correctly identified the purpose of the legislation before him but then adopted an interpretation that failed to give effect to that purpose.  He considered matters that were not pertinent to the excercise of statutory interpretation: whether the regulatory definitions were out of date, the views of the farming community, and the fact that Mr. Matheson was not at fault in the accident.  Consequently, he lost sight of the goal of determining the intent of the legislature."

The Court ruled that, " it was beyond the competence of the motion judge to conclude that Mr. Matheson’s ATV was a self-propelled implement of husbandry based on his opinion that the regulatory regime has not kept pace with changes in society, that ATVs need to be responded to appropriately by our laws, and that they need to be recognized as self-propelled implements of husbandry."  The applicable legislation, including the Off Road Vehicles Act, makes it clear that ATVs cannot be driven on land not occupied by the owner of the vehicle unless it is insured under a motor vehicle policy in accordance with the Insurance Act.  The Court commented that the Regulations "could not make clearer the legislative intent that a Honda ATV model TRX 200 is an off-road vehicle and not a self-propelled implement of husbandry."

Keep this in mind - "The issue is not whether farmers can operate ATVs used in agriculture on highways, but whether they can do so without insurance."  The answer is that they cannot operate ATVs on highways without insurance, at least not without being barred from recovery of damages for injury or death.

Read the decision at: Matheson v. Lewis.