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TORONTO--A man who contracted West Nile virus suffered an accident and is entitled to damages under his group accident insurance policy, an Ontario appeals court ruled.
Being bitten by a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus constitutes an unforeseen, unexpected event caused by an external source--the mosquito--that falls within the ordinary definition of an accident, according to a decision released Monday by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto.
Ryszard Kolbuc was bitten by a mosquito and contracted the virus in 2002, rendering him a paraplegic. At the time, Mr. Kolbuc was insured under a group accident policy issued to his union by ACE INA Insurance, which argued that insurance law in Canada recognized a distinction between an accident and a disease. The insurer claimed that since Mr. Kolbuc's disability was caused by a disease rather than an accident, he was not entitled to coverage.
A lower court judge agreed that Mr. Kolbuc's injury was not caused by an accident and dismissed the claim. The Court of Appeal, though, overturned the dismissal, stating that an accident can cause a disease and ruling that Mr. Kolbuc suffered an accident and was entitled to coverage under the policy.
ACE INA declined to comment.