Woman dragged alongside stolen car entitled to insurance coverage

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A woman who was injured after being dragged alongside her car while attempting to prevent it from being stolen is entitled to insurance coverage, the Court of Appeal of Alberta ruled.

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In an Oct. 18 ruling, three Alberta Justices upheld the decision by Justice Rosemary Nation that Economical Mutual Insurance Company must provide coverage to Teresa D’Andrea for injuries she sustained in the incident.

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According to the ruling, when D’Andrea saw a person attempting to steal her car, she sprinted toward the vehicle and leaned into the open window of the driver-side door, yelling at the thief to “get out of the vehicle.”

The thief veered into the street and sped up, while D’Andrea held onto the door and was dragged for about 40 feet, until the thief accelerated further, “causing her to fall and land on her face and right leg.”

Economical had argued D’Andrea was not entitled to coverage because she was an “occupant” of the car; her policy says an occupant is a “person driving, being carried in or upon or entering or getting on to or alighting from an automobile,” with a provision that coverage will be denied to occupants of a vehicle being used without consent of its owner.

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But Nation ruled being dragged alongside a car doesn’t make a person an occupant of that car, a decision the appeal judges agreed with.

The appeal also upheld Nation’s finding that D’Andrea was struck by the car when it accelerated and dragged her the short distance. The insurance policy requires a person to have been struck by a vehicle while not being an occupant of that vehicle to receive coverage.

“The trial judge found as a fact that the respondent was merely attempting to get the attention of the thief to stop him from taking the car and did not intend to ‘get into’ the car while it was under the control of an unknown third person,” the appeal ruling read.

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