Case Commentary – Injuries that Happen in the Car

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a woman who sustained burns after spilling coffee at a drive through may make an accident benefits claim, as the injury was the result of her operation and use of a motor vehicle.

Injuries suffered during the use and operation of a motor vehicle

In order to claim accident benefits, a person must have suffered an injury arising from the “use and operation” of an automobile. This does not mean that the person must have been driving the car at the time, nor does it mean that a claimant must have been struck or injured by the vehicle itself.

Rather, accident benefits are available for any injury that occurs as a direct result of the use and operation of a motor vehicle. There can be multiple causes of an injury or accident, and the use of a car must simply be the dominant feature of the incident.

Accident benefits for spilled coffee? Dittmann v. Aviva Insurance Company of Canada

This case arose from an incident at a drive through where a driver was severely injured after spilling coffee on to her lap. This occurred as she transferred the cup through her car window, and she was unable to avoid injury because her seatbelt was fastened, as required by law. A motion judge found that she was injured during the use and operation of a motor vehicle, and therefore eligible for accident benefits.

The defendant insurer disagreed, but lost on appeal. The Court found that the motion judge had correctly applied the required test, and agreed that the plaintiff’s injuries arose primarily as the result of her operating a motor vehicle.

Insightful legal advice for potential accident benefits claimants

This case is a recent example of a relatively common situation: an accident that involves a motor vehicle in some way, but not a collision. Victims in these types of accidents may be eligible for statutory accident benefits, which can help compensate them for medical care, expenses, lost income, and other financial losses that they have suffered.

At Derfel Injury Law, our personal injury team helps accident victims handle their claim for accident benefits, so they can focus on getting their lives back on track. We offer sound, practical legal advice after any type of accident involving a motor vehicle.

Contact us online or call 416-847-3580 to make an appointment to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers.