If you’ve ever had to deal with Aviva as an insurer (either as your personal insurer or as the insurer on the other side of a legal proceeding), you’re probably aware that they are known for playing hardball. They don’t like to settle, and they sure don’t like to pay out.
Earlier this week in Toronto, Justice Sanderson was presiding over a civil trial involving a motor vehicle accident. Maria Persampieri, an 84-year-old, was rear-ended in February 2009. Aviva insured the defendant driver, and Aviva made it clear that they would not pay Maria a penny.
Maria’s claim proceeded in typical fashion. In the months before the trial, Maria offered to settle her claim with Aviva for $10,000.00. Her offer was fair and reasonably low. But, Aviva still refused to pay her and tried to bully her into accepting nothing by suggesting that if she were willing to walk away, they wouldn’t go after her for their legal costs. Luckily, Maria hung in, and they went to trial.
The 6-member jury believed Maria and awarded her $67,500.00 in general damages. After various statutory deductibles, Maria’s net total was closer to $20,000.00. When it came to submissions on legal fees, Aviva had the nerve to suggest not only “proportionate” fees be paid to the Plaintiff, but further, that Small Claims Court would have been a more appropriate forum for her claim. Justice Sanderson rejected all of Aviva’s arguments and held them accountable for what she labeled as “unreasonable behavior.” Justice Sanderson ordered Aviva to pay Maria a total of $237.017.50.
Aviva uses this same scare tactic on many deriving Plaintiffs — they threaten a substantial legal costs award and try to bully these injured people into taking nothing through fear and intimidation. This decision by Justice Sanderson truly feels like a win for all Plaintiffs, and hopefully, Aviva will think twice before trying to “stick it” to a Plaintiff.
Here is the link to the case:
Ontario court rules insurer must pay $237K in legal costs to elderly woman