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Hearing or Seeing an Accident Does Not Constitute Being “Involved” in an Accident for the Purposes of Statutory Compensation in Ontario

Gray v Intact Insurance, 2023 CanLII 133 (ON LAT)

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By: Chloe Jardine (Articling Clerk)

The Applicant, Hailey Gray, was “involved” in a motor vehicle accident on August 14, 2019, and claimed entitlement to statutory accident benefits under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, Effective September 1, 2010, O Reg 34/10 (“the Schedule”). The Respondent, Intact Insurance, submitted that the Applicant was not “involved” in the automobile accident and therefore not entitled to any accident benefits.

The Applicant was in her home on August 14, 2019, when a vehicle struck a house located nearby. The Applicant and her partner arrived at the scene and were instructed by police to retreat; as they were retreating, a large natural gas explosion occurred at the accident scene, damaging multiple homes in the area. The Applicant alleges that, due to witnessing this chain of events, she has sustained psychological injuries and is entitled to statutory accident benefits.

The Ontario Court of Appeal previously established a two-part test for determining if an incident is to be considered an “accident”: (1) the purpose test, and (2) the causation test. The purpose test requires determining whether the incident arose from the use or operation of a vehicle. The causation test requires determining whether the use or operation of a vehicle directly caused the impairment in question. The Respondent submitted that the Applicant did not satisfy either test by merely witnessing the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident.

The Ontario License Appeal Tribunal hears disputes regarding compensation claims and licensing activities regulated by the Province of Ontario. This independent, quasi-judicial Tribunal is divided into two main divisions, one of which being the Automobile Accident Benefits Service.

To make its determination, the Tribunal relied on the definition of “insured person” under the Schedule. Specifically, the Tribunal reiterated that only seeing or hearing a motor vehicle accident does not satisfy that someone was involved in the accident for the purpose of statutory accident benefits.

The Tribunal concluded that the Applicant was not entitled to statutory accident benefits as a result of the August 14, 2019, incident, and the action was dismissed.

Link: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onlat/doc/2023/2023canlii133/2023canlii133.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQAXbW90b3IgdmVoaWNsZSBhY2NpZGVudCAAAAAAAQ&resultIndex=3

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