In Montesano v. Western Assurance Co., 2021 ONLAT 19-006780, the claimant proceeded up her driveway towards her house after smoking a cigarette. She tripped and fell forward, striking her face against the rear bumper of her parked SUV before falling to the ground.
The claimant applied for statutory accident benefits from her automobile insurer. The insurer denied the claim on the basis that the incident did not constitute an automobile accident.
There is a two-part test for determining whether an incident qualifies as an “accident” under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule.
The first part of the test is referred to as the “purpose test” and examines whether the incident and injuries arose of the ordinary and well-known activities for which automobiles are used.
The second part of the test is referred to as the “causation test” and examines whether the use and operation of the automobile directly caused the impairment, and whether there was an intervening act that resulted in injuries that cannot be said to be part of the “ordinary course of things”.
Vice-Chair Boyce held that the incident was an automobile accident.
Regarding the “purpose test”, Vice-Chair Boyce followed prior decisions which indicate that a parked automobile falls within the ordinary scope of use and operation of an automobile. The automobile does not have to be actively in use.
Vice-Chair Boyce also stated that the claimant met the “causation test” because, but for her vehicle being parked on the driveway, she would not have struck her face on the bumper when she fell. Moreover, there was no intervening act or event from an independent source that broke the causal link between her trip and fall and her injuries.
Therefore, if a person trips and falls into a parked vehicle, it may be considered an automobile accident for the purpose of claiming statutory accident benefits from an automobile insurer.