A man who sustained a head injury while repairing a truck is not eligible for accident benefits because repairing a vehicle does not constitute "the use" of a vehicle, and hence the man was not involved in a motor vehicle "accident," an Ontario arbitrator has ruled.
In John Earl Olesiuk and Kingsway General Insurance Company, John Olesiuk started to fix a drinking water delivery truck that had been inoperable for a long time after it was involved in an accident (Olesiuk was not the operator in the accident.).
The truck's transmission required repair. The commercial owner of the truck asked Olesiuk, who did some driving for the company, if he would undertake some of the repairs while they waited for the transmission to be fixed. Olesiuk agreed.
Olesiuk's last memory was climbing on the hood of the truck so he could reach the cab of the truck. He was found the next morning lying on the concrete floor with a pool of blood around his head.
Olesiuk claimed accident benefits, arguing that his injuries directly resulted from the use of a motor vehicle. But the insurer disputed his eligibility, arguing that repairs on a vehicle are not part of the use of a vehicle, and thus Olesiuk was not involved in a motor vehicle "accident," as defined by the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS).
Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) arbitrator Richard Feldman ultimately sided with the insurer. "Vehicles are used primarily to transport people and things from one place to another," Feldman wrote in his decision. "They can also be used to store goods. They can be used to tow another vehicle or a trailer. "Some vehicles are intended to be used as a temporary place in which to sleep. As vehicles and technologies change, the types of uses to which vehicles may be put will no doubt expand.
"When one is repairing a vehicle, however, he or she is not actually using the vehicle. While repairs and maintenance may be integral to one's ability to safely use and operate a vehicle, such activities are not, in and of themselves, a use of the vehicle."
Feldman did note that repairs undertaken on a vehicle while on a trip – i.e. stopping at the side of a road to fix a flat – may be the product of a chain of events caused by the "use" of a vehicle and thus "might constitute" an accident.
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