Court rulings clarify meaning of “car dependency”

Okay, let’s say you go hunting in your pickup truck at dawn some day. There, in the mist up ahead, partially illuminated by your truck’s headlights, you see something.

Naturally, you shoot at it.

Turns out it’s not a deer, but a buddy of yours who got there first, and his leg is destroyed (lucky you’re not a good shot).

Do you 1) leave him there to die or get home on his own, since he’s not a deer and you can’t eat him 2) load him into your truck and drive to hospital, since your gun blast probably ruined any chance of good hunting in the area anyway or 3) call your insurance company to report a claim under your third party liability coverage?

Stumped? How about this one:

You’re driving along an interstate highway with your dad, say, down in the good ol’ U.S.A. when out of nowhere a tremendous flash of light and crash of shattered glass rips through the front of your vehicle. You’re left blind and brain-damaged, and will need millions of dollars in care.

How did it happen? Well, some local kids were tooling around at the outskirts of the suburb in their car when they came across a boulder and thought how cool it would be to drop it from the overpass. If only they could get it down the road somehow… Of course! They heave it into the trunk of the car and just drive it there.

Now what to do? 1) go home to Mississauga and moulder away in self-pity 2) sue the pants off the dirt-poor perpetrators in court 3) apply to your own car insurance company, under your “Family Protection Coverage endorsement, which comes into play when a driver who causes injuries has inadequate liability coverage.”

If you answered (3) to both questions you could be a million dollars richer!

In both cases, as reported by James Daw in today’s Business section of the Toronto Star, the precedent is a 1995 case known as Amos v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia.

In that case, a man was shot before he could flee in his van from a gang of car hijackers. He was found eligible for no-fault benefits because his injuries resulted directly from ‘the ordinary and well-known activities to which automobiles are put.’

Which brings us back, I suppose, to the question of car dependency. Not that you’ll see a car advertisement trumpeting these uses soon, but courts of law don’t make things up:

Let’s see. Without a car, you would be unable to 1) use your headlights to blind and startle big game beside the road when you go hunting; 2) transport huge boulders to highway overpasses in order to drop them on unsuspecting motorists below; or 3) experience a carjacking.

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