Newfoundland and Labrador Introduce a 120-Day Notice Period in Motor Vehicle Claims
On April 17, 2019 the legislature of Newfoundland and Labrador made significant insurance friendly amendments to the Automobile Insurance Act (the Act). Specifically, the legislature added section 25.1 to the Act requiring a person who wishes to pursue a personal injury claim to serve the Defendant with written notice within 120 days from the accident date:
- The Act is amended by adding immediately after section 25 the following:
Notice and disclosure before action
25.1 (1) Where a person intends to commence an action for loss or damage from bodily injury or death arising directly or indirectly from the use or operation of an automobile, the person shall
(a) serve written notice of the intention to commence an action on the insured within 120 days after the accident;
The 120-day notice requirement raises several significant issues. Specifically, it is very important to seek the contact and address information of all parties that were involved in the motor vehicle accident. In some cases, if you are not able to retrieve this information you may have to request the police report, which can be costly and can take significant time.
Executing personal written services on a Defendant also raises its own complications. Generally, written service is completed by a process server who will then swear an affidavit that service was affected. Ensuring there is an affidavit is very important as this can be used as evidence as a later date if there is a dispute over if written notice was executed.
Missing the 120-day Notice Period
If the 120-day notice period is missed the claimant can apply to the Supreme Court for an extension to execute notice. However, there is no indication of what evidence will be expected in justifying a court order for an extension of the notice period. Further, it is more than likely a Notice of Action and Statement of Claim will have to be filed against the Defendant(s) first before you can seek an order of the court to extend the 120-day notice period. Additionally, there is no indication on how the notice period interacts with the general limitations period of two years to file a Notice of Action and Statement of Claim against the Defendant.
If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision in Newfoundland and Labrador it is important to collect the contact information of those involved in the collision. It is possible the Defendant’s insurer will try to use failure to comply with the 120-day notice to try and deny your claim. Retain competent counsel to help you navigate the personal injury landscape.