Case Commentary – Excluded Drivers & Limitation Periods

A recent Ontario legal decision shows why injured drivers must be especially careful about limitation periods, as well as the potential cost of driving while excluded under your car insurance policy.

Trudeau v. Cavanaugh – background facts

This case arose from a motor vehicle accident in which the plaintiff, Trudeau, was injured. Both drivers blamed the other for the accident, and it was unclear who was liable. At the scene of the accident, the plaintiff had claimed to be insured by Wawanesa.

The plaintiff, about one year prior to the accident, had signed an endorsement excluding him from coverage under a Wawanesa car insurance policy. This explicitly denied coverage under the policy to Trudeau for any damage or injuries he might cause. Accordingly, Wawanesa denied all coverage to the plaintiff approximately two weeks following the accident. The plaintiff did not appeal or dispute this decision, and instead sued the defendant.

The implications of the plaintiff being an excluded driver

At the time that he defended the claim, the defendant was not aware that the plaintiff was an excluded driver. As we discussed last week, the Insurance Act will bar any civil recovery by a party that was driving without valid car insurance. When the defendant learned of the exclusion in 2017, he moved to amend his defence to plead that the claim was barred completely.

The plaintiff argued that the amendment should not be permitted, since it might defeat his claim entirely and cause him undue prejudice. More than two years had passed since his coverage was denied, and the limitation period now prevented him from bringing any other claims for coverage or compensation for his injuries.

The court disagreed with this position and permitted the amendment. The plaintiff had ample opportunity to dispute Wawanesa’s decision, and failed to do so within the limitation period. He could not change his mind now, in light of his claim being potentially defeated, and attempt to subvert the two-year limitation.

The case will move forward with the defendant allowed to plead a full defence under the Insurance Act.

Experienced car accident lawyers offering comprehensive, compassionate advice

This case illustrates the importance of retaining experienced counsel early to review a potential motor vehicle claim. At Derfel Injury Law, we take steps to canvass every available option for recovery to ensure that clients are not . Our goal is to handle your matter efficiently and professionally, and help you get back to your day-to-day life as soon as possible.

To make an appointment with a member of our team, contact us online or call 416-847-3580 to make an appointment. We are available to meet clients at locations in Toronto.