Does the Law Require That Police Be Notified of a Snowmobile Accident?

A Snowmobile Accident That Causes Injury or Damage Appearing As More Than $400 In Total Must Be Reported to Police.

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A Helpful Guide For How to Determine and Understand When An Accident Involving a Snowmobile Must Be Reported to Police

Snowmobile on fresh snow with snow covered trees in background As is the same for an automobile, where an accident occurs with a snowmobile and an injury is involved, or the resulting damage appears greater than the prescribed value, the accident and full details as required must be reported to the police.  Failure to report a reportable accident is an offence.

The Law
In What Circumstances Must a Snowmobile Accident Be Reported to Police?

The legal mandate to report an accident involving a snowmobile is prescribed separately from the legal mandate to report an automobile accident per the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8 and is instead found within section 13 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles ActR.S.O. 1990, c. M.44.  The requirement to report a snowmobile accident arises wherever there is an injury or collective damage to the snowmobile, and other property, appears greater than four hundred ($400.00) dollars.  Specifically, the reporting requirement within the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act states:

Duty to report accident

13 (1) Every person in charge of a motorized snow vehicle who is directly or indirectly involved in an accident shall, if the accident results in personal injuries or in damage to property apparently exceeding $400, report the accident forthwith to the nearest police officer and furnish the police officer with information in respect of,

(a) the names and addresses of the persons involved;

(b) the date and location of the occurrence; and

(c) the circumstances under which the accident occurred.

Interestingly, whereas the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act requires that an accident be reported "forthwith", the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act is silent, meaning lacking details, regarding the definition of "forthwith".  Accordingly, reference should be made to the precedent court decision of the Court of Appeal as per the matter of R. v. Cameron, 2006 CanLII 6569 wherein it was said:

[6]  Subsection 13(1)(c) of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act provides that “[e]very person in charge of a motorized snow vehicle who is directly or indirectly involved in an accident shall, if the accident results in personal injuries or in damage to property apparently exceeding $400, report the accident forthwith to the nearest police officer and furnish the police officer with information in respect of … (c) the circumstances under which the accident occurred.”  There are no reported decisions that interpret the meaning of “forthwith” in the context of this section of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act.  However, this section is virtually identical to the failure to report provision in s. 199(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8.  Subsection 199(1) of the Highway Traffic Act has been interpreted to mean that someone involved in an accident must report it within a reasonable time having regard to all of the circumstances of the case.  Both counsel appear to be in agreement that the interpretation to be given to the word “forthwith” should be the same in both statutes.  The disagreement relates to how the forthwith requirement was applied.

Accordingly, per the Cameron decision, a snowmobile accident must be reported "forthwith" which is interpreted in the same manner as "forthwith" is interpreted for section 199(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, which is, "within a reasonable time having regard to all of the circumstances of the case".

Penalty
What Is the Punishment For Failing to Report a Snowmobile Accident to Police?

Whereas section 13 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act is silent, meaning lacking details, regarding the potential fine, reference to section 25 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, being the section providing for a general penalty where a penalty is otherwise absent, is required.  Specifically, section 25 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act states:

25 Every person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Act or the regulations is guilty of an offence and on conviction where a fine for the contravention is not otherwise provided for herein is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000.

Accordingly, the fine for failing to report an accident as legally required is a maximum of one thousand ($1,000) dollars.  Interestingly, and unlike most fines for an offence, the provision fails to prescribe a minimum fine.

Summary Comment

When an accident involving a snowmobile occurs, the owner or driver or any other "person in charge" of the snowmobile must report the accident to police if an injury is involved or if the damage appears to exceed four hundred ($400.00) dollars.  Where a person required to report an accident fails to do so "forthwith", meaning within a reasonable time considering the circumstances involved, the person may be subjected to a fine of up to one thousand ($1,000) dollars.


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