Tripping over a parked motorcycle is considered an accident for the purpose of receiving statutory no-fault benefits.
Insurance law – Automobile insurance – No-fault coverage – Ownership, use or operation of motor vehicle – Use of vehicle – Accident – Definition
Economical Mutual Insurance Co. v. Caughy,  O.J. No. 1563, 2016 ONCA 226, Ontario Court of Appeal, March 24, 2016, A. Hoy A.C.J.O., P.D. Lauwers and C.W. Hourigan JJ.A.
An insured tripped over a motorcycle parked in a campsite while playing tag. He suffered serious spinal cord injuries. His insurer denied statutory accident benefits on the basis that the incident did not meet the definition of accident in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (“SABS”). At the trial level, the judge considered the two part test and concluded the incident satisfied the test for an accident. The insurer filed an appeal.
The court of appeal upheld the application judge’s finding, although for slightly different reasons, and dismissed the appeal. It considered the two-part test set out by the Supreme Court of Canada: (i) did the accident result from the ordinary and well-known activities to which automobiles are put; and (ii) is there some nexus or causal relationship between the insured’s injuries and the ownership, use or operation of his vehicle, or is the connection between the injuries and the ownership, use or operation of the vehicle merely incidental or fortuitous. It noted the causation part of the test had been modified as a result of amendments to the SABS. The question was now whether it could be said that the use or operation of the vehicle was a direct cause of the injuries. The court held parking a vehicle was not aberrant to its use as a vehicle, rather a vehicle was designed to be parked. Parking a vehicle was an ordinary and well-known activity to which vehicles are put meeting the first part of the test. The court found the temporary parking of the motorcycle was the dominant feature of the incident and so the incident met the definition of an accident under the SABS. In dismissing the appeal, the court confirmed the test has no requirement that the vehicle be in active use.
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