When Death Preempts a Settlement Disbursement
Insurance settlement cases are usually fairly straightforward. The party with the claim and the insurance company negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement, paperwork is drawn up and signed by both parties, and then a cheque is issued. Both parties go their own way, and the matter is legally over. Normally, there’s not much more to the process – but what if the victim dies before signing the settlement paperwork?
This question was recently brought before Superior Court Justice Robert Reid in the case of Estate of Riggs v. Intact. Justice Reid determined that his court did not have jurisdiction in the matter and that the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) did. However, Justice Reid offered his opinion anyway, stating that the settlement agreement should be binding despite a claimant passing before signing the legal paperwork involved.
The History Behind Estate of Riggs v. Intact
In 2015, the late Gerald Riggs was in a car accident. On December 17, 2018, he and Intact went to mediation. The mediation was successful, and they reached a settlement that included the following:
- The tort insurer would pay the all-inclusive sum of $300,000
- Intact would pay an all-inclusive amount of $350,000
- Intact would also pay for attendant care, incurred treatment plans, physio, and the rehab support worker’s invoices through January 31, 2019
From December 19, 2018, and January 2, 2019, lawyers for both sides discussed how the funds would be allocated and about the settlement disclosure notice. Intact sent the applicable documents for Riggs to sign on January 8; however, Riggs passed away.
Is the Settlement Binding?
As the estate trustee, Riggs’ wife signed the settlement forms and sent them back to Intact. However, Intact declined to pay the settlement on the basis that Mr. Riggs’ personal signature as was not on the settlement documents.
Justice Reid sided with Mrs. Riggs and that the settlement terms were previously agreed upon and both parties intended to move forward with the legally binding settlement. He went on to point out that if Mr. Riggs’ imminent death had been considered at the mediation, his life expectancy would have been accounted for when the settlement was crafted.
Intact’s delay of the documents was also brought into question. He likened the case to that of minors or other victims that are incapacitated and cannot sign for themselves; an executor signs for them just as in the case of Mr. Riggs.
Do You Need Help from an Experienced Mississauga Lawyer?
If you have been hurt in an accident, it’s in your best interest to obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Whether your legal issue is based on car accident injuries, breach of contract, or something else, the experienced Mississauga lawyers at Nanda & Associates are here to help you. We assist clients with typical and unusual cases.
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