Are There Major Differences Between Ontario Personal Injury Law And US Personal Injury Law As It Pertains To Auto Wrecks?
The rights of motor vehicle accident victims are usually governed by the laws of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. There is a well established legal principle known as Lex Loci Delicti, which is a Latin phrase that stands for the proposition that the law of the location of the accident governs. In the context of an auto accident, this means that a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover money for injuries and losses, will be governed by the law of the land where the motor vehicle accident occurred.
In the United States, it is the particular state that establishes the laws governing a victim’s rights following a motor vehicle accident. As such, the rights and remedies available to motor vehicle accident victims can vary across state lines. With that said, many of the U.S. states and Canadian provinces share common elements in their respective laws governing the rights of accident victims.
In my experience representing accident victims in Ontario and in the United States, it has been my observation that, on the whole, the U.S. states tend to provide greater rights and remedies for accident victims to claim against the at-fault party than in Ontario. This can be of significant benefit for an Ontario resident injured in a motor vehicle accident in the United States.
It should be noted that, even where the state laws may be fair and equitable for accident victims, a major concern with accidents in the United States is the amount of available insurance coverage. Often, there is insufficient insurance coverage available on behalf of the at-fault American vehicle. Insurance policy limits in the United States are often much lower than those in Canada. In fact, sometimes the insurance policies will have no coverage at all for bodily injury. For Ontario residents this may result in a claim against an Ontario auto insurance carrier for the underinsured or uninsured portion of the claim.
In those cases involving little or no insurance for bodily injury, the Ontario claim for underinsured or insured benefits may apply a mix of Ontario and U.S. law. While this may add complexity to the claim, you should know that, for many Ontario residents, the ability to apply the U.S. state law to the Ontario claim can be beneficial to the final outcome. This is because many U.S. states have laws that are more favorable than Ontario law with respect to the rights of the accident victim.
If you are a Canadian injured in the United States, contact us to learn more. We offer Free Consultations.
Andrew Iacobelli is a lawyer, licensed to practice law in Florida, Michigan and Ontario. Andrew restricts his practice to the representation of individuals that have been seriously injured.