Wednesday, December 18, 2013


The Definition of "Dependency" Under the SABS

Does an adult child attempting to become self-supporting qualify as a "dependent" under the SABS? The answer may be "yes", depending on the person's circumstances at the time of the accident.

In State Farm v. Bunyan, 2013 ONSC 6670 (S.C.J.), Mr. Bunyan was a pedestrian who was catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle accident.  He moved out of his mother's house after high school, lived with a girlfriend and had a child.  He moved twice to Alberta to find work, but came back to his live with his mother each time.  At the time of the accident he had $0.24 in his bank account and was covering his daily expenses with money from his mother.  He had problems with alcohol.  Corbett J. was satisfied that Mr. Bunyan would have continued relying on his mother's support until she refused help or he obtained help with his alcohol issues.

Corbett J. held that "dependency" must be assessed looking at four factors:

1.  Amount of dependency;
2.  Duration of dependency;
3.  Financial or other needs of the alleged dependent; and
4.  The ability of the alleged dependent to be self-supporting.

Corbett J. held that Mr. Bunyan was principally dependent on his mother: although he was seeking to become self-supporting, more than half of his day-to-day expenses were covered by his mother, he had not found permanent accommodation, had not obtained transportation, had not established that he could keep steady employment, was not paying child support, had no savings, and had problems with alcohol.  He therefore qualified as an "insured person" under his mother's policy.


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