A person using his park truck as a crane may be entitled to compensation for damages under his autombile insurance.

Application by Brent Wormell (Wormell) for a declaration that I.C.B.C. pay him the amount of a judgment obtained against I.C.B.C.’s insured, Bradley Hagen (“Hagen”), was allowed. The loss arose out of the use and operation of Hagen’s motor vehicle. Although the outriggers were extended at the time of the loss, the truck did not cease to be a motor vehicle. Further, the loss was not excluded by virtue of s. 72 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act. The injury did not arise out of the operation of attached equipment at a site where the attached equipment was being operated.

Wormell v. Insurance Corp of British Columbia, July 21, 2010, British Columbia Supreme Court, L.A. Loo J.

 

Brent Wormell (“Wormell”) obtained a judgment against Bradley Hagen (“Hagen”) for $570,288.71 as damages for personal injuries he sustained while removing cargo from Hagen’s flat-bed truck. Wormell brought an application for a declaration that I.C.B.C., who insured Hagen’s vehicle at the time of the accident, pay him the full amount of the judgment.

The incident occurred as Wormell was assisting Hagen to remove cargo from the truck in order to reduce its weight. Hagen was operating the crane and Wormell was on the load attaching the crane hook to the load. The load shifted and Wormell was injured. The outriggers were up at the time of the incident.

I.C.B.C first argued that there was no coverage under s. 64 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act because the incident did not arise out of the use and operation of a motor vehicle because, at the time of the accident, the outriggers were extended and the truck ceased to be a motor vehicle and became a crane. The court disagreed. It used the two-part test from Amos v. Insurance Corp of British Columbia, [1995] 3 S.C.R. 405. First, it found that the truck was being used for an ordinary and well-known activity to which automobiles are put because the truck was being used to transport, load and unload goods. Second, it held that the required nexus existed between Wormell’s injuries and the use of the vehicle because at the time of the accident Wormell was engaged in unloading goods from the truck, and the use of the vehicle materially contributed to his injuries.

Alternatively, I.C.B.C. argued that coverage was excluded under s. 72 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act, which provides that I.C.B.C. shall not indemnify an insured for injury arising out of the operation of attached equipment at a site where the attached equipment is being operated. The court disagreed. It stated that it cannot be said that an isolated area of a government weigh station at night, which is where the incident occurred, is a site in the way the word is ordinarily used--such as a construction site, building site, or work site. It further stated that to adopt the interpretation argued by I.C.B.C. would be interpreting the exclusion clause too narrowly. Therefore, it held that the attached crane was not operating “at a site” and coverage was therefore was not excluded.

This case was digested by Natasha D. Morley and edited by David W. Pilley of Harper Grey LLP. 

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