In L.L.B. v. Intact Insurance Company, 2020 ONLAT 17-003125/AABS, the Licence Appeal Tribunal considered an odd fact situation where a person was assaulted in downtown Toronto.
The claimant was working as a crew member of a television production company. Her job was to keep watch over three dedicated parking spaces. A vehicle pulled into one of the parking spaces. The claimant advised the driver that he could not park there. The driver insisted that he was not parking but then turned off the engine.
The driver became angry and began yelling at the claimant. The driver opened his vehicle door, bumping the claimant’s jacket. The driver then pulled the door inwards before pushing it outwards a second time, intentionally striking the claimant with the vehicle door on her forearms and left knee.
The driver then exited the vehicle and inexplicably punched the claimant in her face three times, striking her right cheek and jaw. He was convicted of criminal assault.
The claimant applied to her automobile insurer, Intact, for statutory accident benefits, stating that the series of events arose from an automobile accident. The claimant sustained physical injuries to her forearms and left knee due to being struck by the vehicle door. Her physical injuries resolved. However, as a result of the assault, she sustained serious and ongoing injuries, including psychological impairment.
Intact argued that the incident was severable into two distinct phases. Intact accepted that the first part of the incident, wherein the claimant was struck by the door, was an automobile accident. However, Intact submitted that the second part of the incident, wherein the claimant was punched, was not an automobile accident. The claimant argued that the incident was not severable as there was no break in the chain of causation.
The Vice-Chair agreed with Intact’s position. She stated that “the dominant and only feature of the second phase of the incident was an assault on the applicant involving the driver’s fists”. The Vice-Chair indicated that the claimant’s impairments from this assault were not directly caused by the driver’s vehicle and did not result from the ordinary and well-known use of vehicles.
In addition, there was a break in the chain of causation since the driver turned off the engine, got out of the car, closed the door, and proceeded towards the claimant in order to punch her in the face.
Therefore, the assault did not meet the definition of an automobile accident, and the claimant’s application for psychological treatment benefits was dismissed.