“Opportunistic” MVA Plaintiff Misses Deadline to Sue for Damages

In a recent motor vehicle accident case Trudeau v. Cavanagh, the court rejected the plaintiff’s late-breaking switch in litigation strategy as “opportunistic” and instead, allowed the defendant to amend his court pleadings a full two years after the accident which would potentially have the effect of shutting out the plaintiff’s personal injury claims entirely.

In this case, the Plaintiff Trudeau sued the Defendant Cavanagh for personal injuries he claimed to have suffered when the motor vehicles they were each driving collided. Two weeks later, the Plaintiff Trudeau learned from his insurer that he had been denied coverage on the basis that in his policy he had endorsed himself as an “excluded driver” and was uninsured at the time of the accident and should theoretically have pursued the car’s prior owner and the insurer and not the Defendant Cavanagh for personal injury damages. However, the Plaintiff Trudeau did not do so.

More than two full years later, after learning of Trudeau’s uninsured “excluded driver” status, Cavanagh realized that he likely had a complete defence to Trudeau’s personal injury claims against him under provincial insurance law. Accordingly, Cavanagh asked the court’s permission to amend his Statement of Defence. However, the timing of Cavanagh’s request was important as the two year limitation period for Trudeau to bring further claims against Cavanagh or anyone else had expired.

Trudeau naturally opposed the Defendant’s request to amend his defence, pointing out that if he could not sue Cavanagh, he was out of time to sue anyone else because the limitation period had expired. The court rejected Trudeau’s argument and found that he had all the facts he needed well before the lapse of the limitation period to explore avenues of legal recourse against parties other than Cavanagh. In this regard, the court noted that Trudeau had received a prompt letter from the insurer denying coverage and also filed a Motor Vehicle Accident Report and certain other litigation evidence that made his early knowledge of the facts clear.

In sum, the court concluded that Trudeau had failed to take timely steps to assert his legal remedies and bring actions against the correct parties, and therefore, despite the potential repercussions to him, the court allowed the amendment to Cavanagh’s Statement of Defence even two years after the accident, even though it might serve to block certain personal injury claims by Trudeau completely. (That issue would be left for a later full trial). See Trudeau v. Cavanagh.