Insurance Coverage Dispute Arises When Passenger Grabs The Wheel, Causing An Accident feature image

Insurance Coverage Dispute Arises When Passenger Grabs The Wheel, Causing An Accident

It is natural for people to turn to their insurance policies after being injured in a motor vehicle accident or other type of event leading to injury. As with many things in life, there are countless variables at play when operating a motor vehicle. As careful a driver as one person might be, they cannot predict the actions of other drivers, or as seen in a recent case before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the actions of passengers in their car.

The facts

The accident occurred on August 29, 2013 when the defendant was driving her car. Her boyfriend was in the passenger seat. The couple began arguing, and at some point the defendant claimed she said something that angered her boyfriend. She said he then suddenly, and without warning, grabbed the steering wheel of the car, which lost control and struck the vehicle in which the passenger was riding.

The boyfriend fled the scene of the accident, but was later arrested and pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing bodily harm and failing to remain at the scene of the accident.

Which insurance policy should apply?

The defendant had a standard automobile OAP1 policy provided to her by the insurer. While she was the sole listed driver, the policy did provide her with third-party liability coverage. The defendant’s insurer brought a motion for summary judgment, arguing there is no genuine issue requiring a trial since the defendant was not liable for the accident. Failing the success of this argument, they put forward that the defendant’s boyfriend was not covered by the defendant’s policy.

The plaintiff, meanwhile, had insurance through her own insurer, which provided for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, otherwise known as “UIM.” They opposed the motion for summary judgment, arguing the defendant’s insurer was acting in bad faith contrary to the defendant’s best interest. They also claimed the issue was not appropriate for summary judgment since a determination had to be made as to whether the boyfriend was covered by the defendant’s insurance.

The court’s analysis

The court determined that the issue was appropriate for summary judgment, and turned its analysis to whether there should be a determination that the defendant’s boyfriend is not covered by the defendant’s insurance. In turning to the question of whether or not the defendant’s boyfriend should be covered by her insurance, the court found, “the evidence on the motion allows me to find that (the defendant’s boyfriend) grabbed the steering wheel without (the defendant’s) consent.  That finding leads to the inevitable conclusion that (the defendant’s boyfriend) would not be covered by (the defendant’s) insurance.”

The personal injury lawyers at HMC Lawyers can assist clients who have suffered serious or catastrophic injures stemming from motor vehicle accidents. We offer compassionate, dedicated advocacy in support of our clients’ claims for fair compensation. We also understand the importance of risk management when it comes to questions of insurance coverage and strive to provide our clients with certainty by helping them identify and avoid potential problems wherever possible. To speak to us today please reach us online or call us at 1-800-480-3534.


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