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Homeowner’s Insurance > Please Defend Me > Fighting with My Neighbour

As reported in the Ontario Reports, the 2009 Superior Court of Justice case of Glassford v. TD Home and Auto Insurance Co. (2009), 94 O.R. (3d) 630 (S.C.) deals with the duty to defend and the role of a homeowner’s insurance policy when you are sued in a lawsuit.

What happens if you get into a physical fight with your neighbour?  And your neighbour sues you for hurting him in that fight?

If you have homeowner’s insurance, then your insurance company may have a duty to defend you in that lawsuit – i.e. they assign and pay for a lawyer to defend you.

And if your homeowner’s insurance delays in appointing you a lawyer, then you may be allowed to choose your own lawyer to defend you in the lawsuit and have your insurance company pay your legal bills.

In the Glassford case, there was a 10 month delay from the start of the lawsuit until this “duty to defend” application in Court.  The Court held that given the passage of 10 months, that the insured was allowed to choose his own lawyer and his homeowner’s insurance policy was required to pay those legal bills.

The issue here was the insured plead that he was acting in “self defence” and was not fighting in a deliberate fashion.  Thus, the insured’s defence was that any injuries caused to the plaintiff were entirely unintentional.  Specifically, he claimed that the plaintiff hurt himself because he lost his balance during the fight and fell and hurt himself.

As background, you can review our other blog entries regarding the duty to defend, including our March 9 and May 15 entries.

Gregory Chang
Toronto Insurance Litigation Lawyer