Gilles Gargantiel v. Attorney General of Quebec

(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)




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Insurance - Automobile insurance - No-fault public automobile insurance scheme - Civil procedure - Exception to dismiss action - Whether article 83.57 of the Automobile Insurance Act, CQLR, c. A-25, creates a bar or civil immunity preventing an automobile accident victim in Quebec from suing a third party who commits an intervening act of negligence following the accident which causes new or aggravated injuries to the accident victim - In the event an automobile accident victim in Quebec makes a claim to the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (“SAAQ”) and cashes indemnity payments received from the SAAQ, whether such action means that the accident victim has automatically renounced to any civil recourse that he or she may have had against a third party - Automobile Insurance Act, CQLR, c. A-25, art. 83.57.

On October 18, 2009, just after 6:00 P.M., the Appellant lost control of his automobile and careened off the highway into a patch of bushes next to a railway track. A few minutes later, the Sûreté du Québec (“SQ”) was notified of the accident by the automobile’s OnStar system with precise GPS coordinates of the location of the accident and the Appellant’s automobile. In the two hours following the accident, the SQ agents failed to locate the Appellant and his automobile, never having stopped to search at the precise location indicated to them by the GPS coordinates and ostensibly annoyed by the OnStar system’s repeated calls. The search was called off, and the Appellant was only found approximately two days after, in a semi-conscious state, by a railway worker doing a routine inspection of the tracks. The Appellant was subsequently treated for severe injuries resulting, inter alia, in the partial amputation of his right leg due to frostbite. The Appellant instituted legal proceedings for damages against the Respondent alleging negligence on the part of the SQ agents. In response, the Respondent filed a motion to have the Appellant’s action dismissed on grounds that the Appellant had already been entirely indemnified in accordance with the no-fault public automobile insurance scheme set forth under the Automobile Insurance Act, CQLR, c. A-25 (the “Act”).

Lower Court Rulings

May 1, 2013
Superior Court of Quebec

2013 QCCS 1888, 500-17-074226-120
Motion to dismiss action granted.
February 9, 2015
Court of Appeal of Quebec (Montréal)

2015 QCCA 224, 500-09-023604-135
Appeal dismissed.