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Canadians continue to make the United States a popular destination to visit. More than 20 million people crossed the border from Canada into the U.S. for overnight trips according to the most recently available yearly statistics. Cars continue to be the most popular means of travel with three out of four visits by Canadians to the U.S. being made by car. If you are a resident of Ontario planning a road trip across the border, take a few minutes to become familiar with the laws and procedures that apply in the event you or a family member travelling with you is injured in a car accident while visiting the U.S.
Can you use Ontario courts for a U.S. car accident?
If you are injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you have the right to file a claim for damages against the negligent party. Ontario residents injured in collisions across the border in the U.S. have a choice to make about the court in which to file their claim for damages.
You could decide to sue in the state in which the accident occurred, but this might not be the most convenient option for you. Depending upon the extent of your injuries, you will probably return to Ontario to continue with your medical care after receiving preliminary medical evaluations and treatment in the U.S. making it more convenient to consult with a personal injury lawyer and making a claim in Ontario.
According to a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, you could file a claim for damages in the courts in Ontario if one or more of the connecting factors exist:
- The accident occurred in Ontario;
- The party responsible for causing the accident resides or is domiciled in Ontario;
- The responsible party has a business in Ontario; or
- A contract made in connection with the claim arose in Ontario.
A personal injury lawyer can review the facts of your accident and claim for damages and offer advice about the courts having jurisdiction over your case.
Reporting the accident
You must report a car accident to your insurance company, broker or agent within seven days from the date of the accident no matter where the collision took place. The claims process for a car crash outside of Canada is much the same as it would be had your accident taken place in Ontario.
Increase your insurance coverage before heading south
Auto insurance coverage requirements vary from state to state in the U.S., with some states requiring drivers to maintain only minimal liability coverage. You can protect yourself in case the driver causing your collision does not have sufficient coverage or does not have any insurance at all by adding a Family Protection Endorsement to your insurance policy before leaving home.
Family Protection Endorsements provide coverage for you and occupants of your vehicle in the event of a collision caused by an uninsured or underinsured U.S. driver. For example, your claim for damages against an underinsured motorist would be made against both the liability coverage of the other driver’s car insurance and with your own insurance company under your Family Protection Endorsement.