Canadians travel frequently to the United States to visit friends or family, for vacation and for work. When a Ontario resident is involved in a car accident while visiting the United States, they will often have access to Canadian and US insurance benefits. Quite often, when a Canadian is injured in a car accident in the USA, the claims for losses are primarily paid by a Canadian auto insurance policy.
Fortunately, auto insurance policies issued to drivers and automobile owners in Ontario, provide coverage throughout Canada and the United States. These policies include first-party accident benefits, as well as coverage for liability and underinsured and uninsured motorists.
With respect to the first-party benefits, an Ontario resident will have the option of electing benefits of either Ontario or the State where the accident occurred, in the case of a car accident in the United States. The election cannot be changed, so it is important to understand the difference between Ontario benefits and the place of the accident before making an election of benefits on your accident benefits claim.
Most US states also have lower minimum insurance requirements for their drivers and vehicles. As such, many Canadians from Ontario will also need to consider advancing an Underinsured or, sometimes, Uninsured motorist claim. These claims must be commenced in the Province of Ontario, even though the accident occurred in the United States. Canadian courts have recognized that Ontario residents injured in an accident in the United States have a direct right to commence the Underinsured or Uninsured claim independently of any claim they might also have against the at-fault driver in the United States. See, Somersall v. Friedman, 2002 SCC 59 (CanLII),  3 S.C.R. 109; Johnson v. Wunderlich (1986), 57 O.R. (2d) 600, 1986 CanLII 2618 (ON CA), 1986 CanLII 2618 (C.A.); Forsythe v. Westfall, 2015 ONCA 810.
It is important for Ontario residents to realize that they may need an Ontario car accident injury lawyer, even if they have hired a personal injury lawyer in the United States. Although the U.S. lawyer will be able to advance the claims against the at-fault driver in the United States, they will not likely be familiar with the first-party claims for accident benefits, and underinsured motorists benefits.
Iacobelli Law Firm regularly represents Canadians in their insurance claims following a car accident in the United States. Lawyer Andrew Iacobelli has experience in Ontario and the United States, and is licensed in Ontario, Michigan and Florida, and is a member of trial lawyer organizations in Canada and the United States. We have relationship and a network with many lawyers throughout the United States, giving us the ability to assist Ontario residents with representation in Ontario, and we can also introduce you to lawyers in the U.S. to advance any part of the claim that must be commenced in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.
If you are a Canadian (Ontario) resident and have been injured in a car accident in the United States, we may be able to assist. We provide FREE CONSULTATION with no obligation to prospective clients. The Consultation is Free, Confidential and without any obligation on your part. Call us any time, day or night, to learn more about your rights or to request a free consultation with a lawyer by calling 1-866-234-6093 or completing our contact form here.