Making a Claim after an Accident While on Vacation

The last thing you want is to get injured on vacation.  It happens.  Fairly often, in fact!

  • Injured in the United States?

Most of the time if you are injured in the U.S., it will not be that difficult to figure out what to do.  In many states there is no shortage of personal injury lawyers who line the highways with billboards.  The lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth have many great connections to excellent trustworthy American lawyers.  If you need a referral to a lawyer in any U.S. state, please call us.  We will happily listen to your story and refer you to someone we know and trust.  There will never be a fee for this service.  Call us at 613 233-4529.

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in the U.S. and you have car insurance in Ontario, or live with a family member who has car insurance, you should contact an Ontario personal injury lawyer.  Most often,  your own auto  insurance company will be involved in cases involving U.S. car accidents, even if you were not at fault in the accident or were just a passenger, pedestrian or cyclist.  This is true even if your own vehicle was parked in your garage in Ottawa while you had your accident in Nebraska or Idaho. (Okay, probably Florida, we know.)

For example, you will have access to statutory accident benefits to cover some of your health care costs, lost wages and related expenses.

You will also likely have access to the Family Protection Endorsement (also known as OPCF 44R).  Many drivers in the U.S. have much lower insurance policy limits that we have in Ontario.   The OPCF 44R will require your own insurance to “top up”  your compensation if the American at fault driver’s insurance is not enough to cover your loss.  Yes, you should have a lawyer for this.  No, it will not affect your insurance rates.

  • Injured Outside Canada and the US?

Accidents at Caribbean resorts, Mexico or in Central or South American countries present more complicated issues.  You will almost always need a lawyer to navigate the issues if you are looking for compensation.  Questions you need to ask include:

o   Can I sue for damages in this country?

o   What can I be compensated for?  Pain and Suffering?  Lost wages? Medical Expenses?

o   How can I find a lawyer?

o   Is there a limitation period?  This is very important.  Some countries have VERY short time periods in which to bring a claim.

Keep in mind that the laws of your host country will apply to any law suit.  You will only be able to recover compensation if the company or person you are suing has assets or insurance.

Often, it will be unwise to count on being able to sue a foreign person or company for injuries they cause, even if they are actually negligent.  To safeguard your financial well-being before heading out on vacation,  review your disability policies and travel health insurance to make certain that they are valid and adequate to meet your needs.

If you are renting a car or other motorized vehicle outside of Canada and the U.S. make sure you purchase insurance.  Find out if the insurance offers protection to you in the event of an accident in the form of accident benefits, uninsured motorist or unidentified motorist coverage.

  • Can I sue in Ontario for Injuries Suffered Abroad?

The Supreme Court of Canada actually looked at this issue in April 2012 in a decision called Club Resorts Ltd. v. Van Breda.   The case involved two separate (unrelated) accidents in Cuba.  In one case the vacationer was very seriously injured.  In the other case the vacationer was killed.

The Court ruled that the injured person (or his family) could sue in Ontario if one of the following factors existed:
• The vacation company was established in Ontario
• The vacation company was doing business in Ontario
• The injury happened in Ontario
• A contract connected with the dispute was made in Ontario.

Practically speaking, if you use an Ontario travel agent and / or an Ontario tour company, you are more likely to satisfy this test.  Being able to sue in Ontario is a very significant advantage when compared to having to travel to the foreign country (while injured or grieving) to litigate.  This is particularly true where there are language and cultural barriers.

 

If you want more information about your rights after an accident while you were on vacation, call us at 613 233-4529.

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