The recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in
State Farm v. Bunyan (2013 ONSC 6670)
examines the issue of whether the respondent ("Mr.
Bunyan") was a "dependant" in accordance with the
Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule ("SABS") and thus
entitled to accident benefits under his mother's automobile
policy. In this instance the Court concluded that Mr. Bunyan
remained "dependant" on his mother at the time of his
accident despite having left her home in Ontario to find employment
in Alberta. The Court further concluded that it would be unjust for
State Farm to succeed on the application after having paid benefits
to Mr. Bunyan for five years.
Mr. Bunyan was an adult who had been living with his mother in
Ontario on and off for many years. He had previously moved out of
his mother's home to pursue various employment opportunities
prior to returning to her home. Just prior to the accident, Mr.
Bunyan had been on a bus to Alberta, to find work, when he was
involved in an altercation with other passengers on the bus.
Ultimately, Mr. Bunyan was removed from the bus and left on the
highway where he was subsequently struck and injured by a truck
which resulted in Mr. Bunyan having sustained catastrophic
injuries. At the time of the accident Mr. Bunyan had $0.24 in his
bank account and his mother continued to pay for the majority of
Mr. Bunyan's day to day expenses.
In the Court's decision Justice Corbett reviewed the
definition of "dependant" under the "SABS"
which states that a "dependant" is "principally
dependent for financial support or care on the other person or the
person's spouse". In reaching a determination as to
whether or not a person is "dependant" the court will
consider the amount and duration of the dependency, the
dependent's financial or other needs and their ability to be
In this decision the court noted that "independence is more
a transition than an event" and the analysis of dependence is
both "a practical and functional one". Accordingly, the
issue of dependence may turn on whether or not an individual
remained dependent at the time of the accident despite having made
some progress towards independence. In this decision Justice
Corbett noted that at the time of the accident more than half of
Mr. Bunyan's day to day expenses continued to be met by his
mother, he had no independent residence, no transportation, no
steady employment, no savings, had not paid his child support
obligations and Mr. Bunyan appeared to suffer from alcohol
dependency issues. In consideration of these factors and Mr.
Bunyan's prior inconsistent progress the Court concluded that
Mr. Bunyan was not likely to become independent merely as a result
of his having moved out of his mother's Ontario home to pursue
employment in Alberta. Ultimately, Justice Corbett found that Mr.
Bunyan remained principally dependent on his mother at the time of
the accident and he was therefore an insured person under State
Farm's automobile policy.
Justice Corbett also determined that State Farm was prevented
from bringing the subject application after having paid benefits to
Mr. Bunyan for five years. In particular, the Court noted that if
the Court had determined that Mr. Bunyan was not
"dependant" on his mother at the time of the accident Mr.
Bunyan would no longer have had recourse against the Manitoba
Public Insurance Corporation ("MPIC ") who insured the
truck which had struck Mr. Bunyan. If State Farm had wished to
pursue a position as against Mr. Bunyan's entitlement to
coverage it was incumbent on State Farm to do so while it was still
open to Mr. Bunayn to pursue a claim for SABS against MPIC.
Automobile drivers, like fine wine, tend to get better with age. Older drivers can draw on a wealth of experience from their years on the road to assist them when faced by a variety of dangerous conditions.
Under B.C.'s former and current Limitation Act, the limitation period for a Plaintiff's claim can be extended on the basis of a Defendant having acknowledged in writing some liability for the cause of action.
The insurance industry will be interested in Ledcor Construction Ltd v. Northbridge Indemnity Insurance Co because of principles the Supreme Court of Canada applied to the "faulty workmanship" exclusion in a Builders' Risk policy.
The recent Preliminary Issue decision in Walsh and Echelon (FSCO A15-007448, August 31, 2016) confirms that an economic loss does not need to be demonstrated in order to be entitled to attendant care benefits.
For the first time in BC, a Court has decided that an insured is entitled to special costs, rather than the lower tariff costs, solely because they were successful in a coverage action against their insurer.
Policyholders recently won a key victory at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ledcor Construction Ltd. v. Northbridge Indemnity Insurance Co. as the Supreme Court clarified the interpretation of a standard form...
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