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Personal Injury Claims of Cohabitating Families

In the case of Traders General Insurance Company v Elizabeth Gibson, 2019 ONSC 1599, Elizabeth Gibson who lived with her mother, suffered bodily injury when she leaned over a railing to grab a broom. She fell off the porch and the railing went down with her. As a result, Ms. Gibson sued her mother, the contractor, his company and a neighbour.

Ms. Gibson’s mother had a homeowner policy through Traders General Insurance Company. This policy included protection and coverage for damages due to bodily injury arising out of her ownership, use or occupancy of the premises. However, the policy contained an exclusion arising from injury to “any person residing in your household other than a residence employee.”

The court decided that this exclusion was in place to protect insurers from collusion between family members who were living together, but this was not the case at hand. Ms. Gibson argued that she was a tenant and therefore the exclusion would not apply. Although they were family, Ms. Gibson had been paying fixed rent to her mother since high school graduation.

The court found that the coverage ought to be interpreted broadly. It was reasonable to conclude that the coverage included tenants as tenancy is an ordinary use of the premises. The court found that Ms. Gibson fit into the definition of “tenants” in the policy as she occupied the property in question and there was an exchange of consideration that allowed her to occupy the property. Therefore the court was satisfied that Ms. Gibson was a tenant and her claims were covered under the Traders policy.

If you are a tenant and have been injured in your home, contact us online for a free legal consultation or by phone at 1-800-563-6348 to speak directly with one of our lawyers.

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