Digest: Johnson v S.G.I., 2018 SKQB 265

Date:October 18, 2019
 
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Reported as: 2018 SKQB 265

Docket Number: QBG 718/16 JCS , QB18256

Court: Court of Queen's Bench

Date: 2019-10-18

Judges:

  • Scherman

Subjects:

  • Statutes � Interpretation � Automobile Accident Insurance Act, Section 144, Section 145

Digest: In August 2014, the father of the plaintiffs was killed in an automobile accident. He was unemployed and had no surviving spouse at the time of his death. His children were then all under the age of 21 and thus dependants within the meaning of The Automobile Accident Insurance Act. In October 2015, SGI provided decision letters to the plaintiffs that prorated a spousal death benefit among them. They each brought an action against SGI claiming that they each were entitled to receive the full share of what a surviving spouse would have received under s. 144(4): $66,696. Weekly death benefits had been paid to each of the plaintiffs as dependants pursuant to s. 144(6), (7) and (10) of the Act until October 2015 when they elected to receive the balance of their weekly benefits as a capitalized lump sum. They then sought a declaration that they were individually entitled to the spousal benefit provided by s. 144(4) in addition to their weekly benefits as dependants. They argued that based upon a literal reading of s. 145(2) of the Act, where a sole parent of a dependant has died as a result of an automobile accident, the dependant is entitled to the death benefit mentioned in s. 144(4). They argued that this interpretation was confirmed by the fact that other provisions, such as s. 145(6) in the Act and s. 26(4) of The Personal Injury Benefits Regulations, did not prescribe a manner of calculating and dividing the benefit other than that directed in s. 145(2), resulting in each of them receiving $66,696. SGI argued that by virtue of the directions in s. 145 of the Act and s. 26 of The Personal Injury Benefits Regulations, each plaintiff was entitled to only a prorated share of a surviving spouse�s entitlement.
HELD: The plaintiffs� appeal from the decision letters was dismissed as was their request for the declaration. The court held that the proper interpretation to be given s. 144(4) and s. 145(2) of the Act is that where an insured dies in an automobile accident without a surviving spouse, the insured�s dependants share equally the spousal death benefit provided for in s. 144(4).

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