Canadian Underwriter

Taxicab not a direct cause of accident

October 15, 2007   by Canadian Underwriter

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A passenger who got out of a taxicab and fell on her way into a hotel was not injured as a result of an accident as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS), the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) has found on appeal of Webb v. Lombard General Insurance Company of Canada.
The appeal overturns the original November 2006 decision of an arbitrator, who found that the slip-and-fall incident was indeed an accident under SABS.
In Webb, the claimant, Diane Webb, was a passenger in the front seat of a taxicab. The cab dropped her off at her hotel, under a carport awning that extended from the entrance of the lobby. The cab was stopped so that the passenger side of the vehicle was facing away from the hotel.
Webb paid the driver, exited the cab and walked around the vehicle. She noticed a few ice patches around the cab. As she reached the rear of the cab and began walking towards the hotel lobby, she saw more ice.
Webb fell on both knees when she slipped on a piece of ice past the midway point of the rear of the vehicle. She tried to catch herself on the cab, but the fingertips on her right hand only touched the bumper.
In the original case, the arbitrator found the use and operation of the cab was one direct cause of Webbs slip and fall.
On appeal, however, it was found that Webbs injury falls outside the scope of the accident definition, and that the arbitrator erred in law in reaching the contrary conclusion, Nancy Makepeace, directors delegate of the appeals unit of FSCOs dispute resolutions services, wrote. Makepeace noted that because Webb got out of the cab and fell only after she began walking towards the entrance of the hotel, the cab was not a direct cause of her impairment.