Even in the best of circumstances, car accidents are stressful and traumatic experiences for those involved. Add to that the stress of trying to determine how to get compensation when the accident occurs outside of Ontario, and you could be facing an absolute nightmare.
Am I Entitled to Accident Benefits Coverage?
The first question you will need to answer if you are an Ontario resident involved in an out-of-province accident is whether your Accident Benefits insurer will cover you, or whether you can claim compensation for your injuries elsewhere.
The good news: if you have an Ontario Insurance Policy you are entitled to coverage if your car accident occurred anywhere within Canada and the U.S., or even on a vessel plying between the ports of Canada and the U.S., according to section 2(3) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS).
However, section 59(1)(b) of the SABS also provides that individuals seeking accident benefits for an accident that occurred outside of Ontario are only eligible if no benefits are received under the law of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. Section 59(2) of the SABS clarifies that the accident benefits claimant may choose to receive either the benefits available under the SABS or the benefits available under the law of the extra-provincial jurisdiction. Given that each province in Canada and each state in the U.S. has different legislation and regulation surrounding car insurance, you may need to retain a lawyer within the province or state where the accident occurred in order to ascertain if you’re entitled to benefits under the law of that jurisdiction.
Who to sue?
The next question you should attempt to answer if you are an Ontario resident involved in an out-of-province accident is who to sue?
As a general rule, if you are not at-fault for the accident you should sue all of the other parties involved in the accident. The only potential problem: depending on where the accident took place, the other drivers may not have valid insurance coverage. In some U.S. states, for instance, car insurance is not mandatory. In that case, you may have to name your own Accident Benefits insurer as a defendant to the action. Under section 265 of the Insurance Act, all Ontario insurers must provide uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage provides that if you are in a hit-and-run accident or an accident with a vehicle that has little or no insurance coverage, you may sue your own Accident Benefits insurer rather than the driver or owner of the at-fault vehicle.
Overall, the law governing motor vehicle accidents experienced by Ontario residents outside of the province of Ontario is highly technical and subject to frequent change. If you are an Ontario resident involved in an accident while you are traveling outside the province, it is best to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer can provide valuable information about your entitlement to Accident Benefits, as well as who to sue and where to issue the claim. Call Reybroek Law at (416) 780-1413 to schedule a free consultation today.