"If you can’t find your itinerant clients, have they failed to cooperate with your defence of an auto insurance liability action?", Gore Mutual Insurance Company

July 23, 2018, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

CanadianUnderwriter.ca reported an interesting case in June. The article is short and well worth the read.

Auto insurer on hook for $300K after client address mix-ups

June 26, 2018   by David Gambrill

If you can’t find your itinerant clients, have they failed to cooperate with your defence of an auto insurance liability action?

An Ontario court recently ordered Gore Mutual Insurance Company  to pay a $300,000 balance owing on a settlement judgment, after finding that the inability of the company and its lawyers to locate their insured car owner and her son (who was involved in an accident) did not mean the car owner client was trying to evade the legal process.

Alan Stewart was involved in an auto accident with Michael Ruddell in 2008. Stewart’s mother, Gayle Bass, was the owner of the car insured by Gore.

Between 2008 and 2010, Gore was in contact with Bass to provide information about the whereabouts of her son, who was a key witness in the case. The insurer and its lawyers then lost track of Bass, who frequently changed addresses, sometime in late 2010.

Ruddell ultimately obtained a settlement of $300,000. The only issue at trial was which insurance company would pay it – Stewart/Bass’s (Gore) or Ruddell’s (Allstate Insurance Company of Canada).

In arguing that it should not have to pay, Gore cited the difficulties in finding either Stewart or Bass as proof that they failed to co-operate with the insurer in defending the case, thereby voiding the insurance policy.

The court agreed that Stewart, a key witness in the case, did not provide much assistance to Gore. But the insurer’s difficulties in trying to locate Bass did not mean she was uncooperative, the court found.

The insurer tried to contact Stewart through Bass, who advised Gore’s adjuster in 2008 that her son worked as a rigger in the entertainment industry and therefore switched job locations frequently. When Bass supplied her son’s contact information, she notified the adjuster that her place in Wasaga Beach, Ont. would be sold in a month. After the sale, she had a temporary address in Verdun, Que.

Two years later, when Ruddell’s statement of claim was released, a Gore broker contacted her at a new residence in Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson, Que.

In 2014, Bass lived in Orangeville, Ont., where she told an investigator hired by Allstate that she spent much of her time in the Laurentians in Quebec.

The court noted that Bass was helpful whenever Gore and Allstate representatives had managed to track her down. A big part of the problem, though – outlined at length in the decision – was a five-year history of repeated attempts to contact her at addresses known to be out of date.

“I do not wish to be critical of Gore, counsel, or others who thereafter looked for [Bass], but there were a series of obvious errors made in trying to locate her,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Nakatsuru wrote in Ruddell v. Gore, released Friday.

“Firstly, counsel waited some four months after the letter of Sept. 20, 2010 was sent to her at the Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson [address] to try and reach her. It [the September 20 letter] was sent to the wrong address.

“Then it was not until some nine months after that when counsel received no reply that another attempt to contact her was made. The letter was again sent to the Wasaga Beach address that Gore knew was sold over a year before. Not surprisingly, she could not be located,” Justice Nakatsuru wrote.

After, any further effort to contact Bass or serve her with documents meant that documents were consistently sent to the Wasaga Beach or Verdun addresses, where it was clear Bass no longer lived.

“No one seemed to have thought it might be helpful to try and make more inquiries directed to the Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson address which was actually her last known address.”


 

Posted under Accident Benefit News

View All Posts

About Deutschmann Law

Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

It is important that you review your accident benefit file with one of our experienced personal injury / car accident lawyers to ensure that you obtain access to all your benefits which include, but are limited to, things like physiotherapy, income replacement benefits, vocational retraining and home modifications.

Practice Areas

  1. Car accidents
  2. Motorcycle accidents
  3. Automobile accident benefits
  4. Catastrophic injury
  5. Brain injury
  6. Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
  7. Spinal cord injury
  8. Drunk driving accidents
  9. Concussion syndrome
  1. Wrongful death
  2. Bicycle accidents
  3. Disability insurance claims
  4. Slip and fall injury
  5. Fractures or broken bone injury
  6. Pedestrian accidents
  7. Chronic pain
  8. Truck accidents
  9. Amputation and disfigurement

Personal Injury Blog

Dec 14, 2018
After 15 concussions and friend's suicide bull rider retires from the sport
Dec 14, 2018
Preparing for Insurance in the Autonomous Vehicle Future
Dec 11, 2018
Spinal implant restores limited walking in humans with spinal cord injury.
Dec 07, 2018
Two Court of Appeal Cases Considering Municipal Liability in Car Crashes - Chiocchio v Hamilton (City) and Smith v. Safranyos
Dec 06, 2018
Spinal Cord Injury and TBI recognized as global health priorities - The Lancet
Dec 04, 2018
What is Too High to Drive?

More Personal Injury Articles » 
Review our services

Connect with us

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Youtube Google