A Normal Life Includes More Than Employment

Martin v. TD General Insurance, 2011 ONSC 7512 (CanLII)

MVC August 16, 2003. The Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to her back and her neck accompanied by headaches and disturbances with her vision. Following the accident, the Plaintiff had worked for approximately two and a half years at a convenience store on a part time basis and later on full time hours.

The trial judge accepted based on the medical evidence and her testimony that the plaintiff was having difficulties with mobility, shopping, washing dishes, and almost all heavy household duties. She was able to complete laundry, ironing, and outdoor activities such as cutting the grass and clearing the snow albeit only with some help. Prior to the accident Ms. Martin enjoyed hiking, cycling, “shooting hoops”, skating, and playing football with her family in their backyard. Her evidence at trial was that her ability to participate in those activities was severely limited.

Did the Plaintiff’s ability to work full time hours mean that she had returned to a “normal life”? The trial judge found that despite the fact that the Plaintiff had recovered the ability to work on a full time basis, she still met the test under the legislation of “suffering from a complete inability to carry on a normal life”. The trial judge found that despite being able to work, the remainder of the activities the she engaged in prior to the accident were impaired to a sufficient degree.

Why is this case important? Even if an injured person who prior to the accident may not have been employed but following an accident does obtain even full time employment, he or she may still qualify for a non-earner benefit if pain prevents that person from “engaging” in pre-accident activities of daily living to a significant degree.

The Martin decision was recently reviewed by the Court of Appeal and was affirmed on the ground that the Plaintiff met the test for the non-earner benefit.

Prepared by Alex Lempp