Cross-Border Counsel: Navigating the Complexities of Representing Canadians Injured in Florida Car Accidents
Representing Canadians injured in Florida car accidents requires Florida attorneys to navigate a complex interplay of U.S. and Canadian law, particularly concerning insurance and compensation mechanisms. This article considers the unique aspects of such claims, focusing on no-fault benefits in Canada, underinsured motorist coverage, treatment considerations given government-funded healthcare, and the benefits of co-counseling with a Canadian lawyer when representing a Canadian injured in Florida.
No-Fault Benefits in Canada
Canadian provinces like Ontario often have robust no-fault insurance systems. In Ontario, accident benefits are manadatory part of all auto insurance policies, and provide compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, income replacement, and other losses, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. These benefits can be substantial, with limits up to $1 million for catastrophic injuries. This is a critical consideration for Florida attorneys representing Canadians because their clients may have significant resources available under their own insurance policies. An Ontario resident injured in the United States will also have the option to elect between Ontario no-fault coverage or the coverage available in the state where the crash occurred. This election should not be taken lightly as it is final. Careful analysis should be taken before deciding whether to elect Ontario or US no-fault benefits. The interplay between Canadian insurance benefits and Florida's legal system can be complex. Attorneys must understand the specifics of Canadian policies and how they interact with Florida's laws to effectively advocate for their client's rights and ensure they are not left undercompensated. It is also important to note that disputes over no-fault benefits are resolved in a Canadian forum.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Many Canadians carry significant underinsured motorist coverage, often in the amount of $1 million or more. This is designed to protect them if they are involved in an accident with a driver who has insufficient insurance. However, accessing these funds can be challenging and may require a lawsuit to be filed in Canada. It is rare for the UM carrier to settle for fair value of the UM claim without being sued in a Canadian court. This is where cross-border legal complexities come into play. Florida attorneys need to be conversant with the Canadian legal system and potentially collaborate with Canadian lawyers to navigate these claims successfully. It is also important to note that in the UM claim there are portions of Canadian law that will apply and other areas of Florida law that are applicable. For instance, Ontario law on damages controls, while Florida law on liability controls. This can create some confusion with respect to the applicability of the Ontario threshold and deductible on non-pecuniary damages claims. Ontario insurance companies may suggest that the deductible applies to UM claims origininating from US accidents, but this is not correct. Often it requires a lawsuit to establish that the deductible does not apply to offset the damages.
Treatment Considerations and Government-Funded Healthcare
Canada's government-funded healthcare system significantly impacts the treatment and recovery process for injured Canadians. This system covers many basic healthcare needs, which can reduce the immediate out-of-pocket medical expenses for the injured. However, it also means that Florida attorneys must understand how this system interacts with personal injury claims, especially regarding medical subrogation claims. In some cases, the Canadian healthcare system may seek reimbursement from any settlement or judgment awarded to the injured party. Navigating these claims requires a nuanced understanding of both Canadian healthcare law and Florida's personal injury laws. There may also be travel medical insurance that can assert rights of subrogation. Generally, the right of subrogation from Canadian health insurers only extends to the US tortfeasors insurance policy and not the Canadian issued UM policy. There are also occasions where the subrogated claims may be extinguished altogether if there is insufficient insurance to compensate the injured victim.
The Benefits of Co-Counseling with Canadian Lawyers
Co-counseling with a Canadian lawyer can significantly benefit Florida attorneys representing injured Canadians. A Canadian lawyer can provide invaluable insights into the Canadian legal system, insurance policies, and healthcare considerations. They can assist in navigating the complexities of Canadian insurance law, advise on the implications of Canadian no-fault benefits, and help coordinate claims with Canadian healthcare providers. Moreover, having a Canadian lawyer involved can facilitate smoother communication with Canadian clients and insurers, and provide a comprehensive legal strategy that considers all aspects of the client's recovery and compensation.
Maximizing Compensation for Injured Canadian Clients
To ensure their Canadian clients receive the full compensation they are entitled to, Florida attorneys must be meticulous in several areas. They need to gather comprehensive evidence about the accident and injuries, understand the client's insurance coverage in-depth, and advocate for the full spectrum of benefits and compensation available to them. This might include coordinating with Canadian insurers, understanding the intricacies of international insurance law, and, when necessary, litigating in Canadian courts.
Representing Canadians injured in Florida presents unique challenges and opportunities. Florida attorneys need to be well-versed in the specifics of Canadian no-fault benefits, understand the coverage details of underinsured motorist policies, navigate the complexities of Canada's government-funded healthcare system, and consider the advantages of co-counseling with Canadian lawyers. We regulalry work with attorneys throughout Florida and the United States to assist with their Canadian clients. Andrew Iacobelli is licensed to practice law in Ontario, Florida and Michigan, and maintains active practices in both Ontario and Florida. Andrew is also the author of a book on cross border injury claims. To learn more how we can assist with maximizing the claims of your Canadian clients reach out to us anytime at 866-234-6093.
Andrew Iacobelli is an experienced personal injury lawyer who established Iacobelli Law Firm with offices located in Ontario, Canada and Florida, U.S.A. Andrew restricts his practice to the representation of personal injury victims in claims involving serious injuries, Catastrophic Injuries, and wrongful death in Canada and the United States. Andrew is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and the author of "Are You a Canadian Injured in the United States? Claim the Damages and Insurance Coverage the Right Way". Andrew also hosts a popular podcast and YouTube channel on the subject of personal injury law and the rights of injury victims.
Main Law Office and Mailing Address
15 Wertheim Court, Suite 303
Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 3H7
1200 Bay Street, Suite 202
Toronto, Ontario, M5R 2A5
10877 Keele Street
Vaughan, Ontario L6A 0K6
Toll Free: 1-877-742-2529
Our Fee Promise: No Fees Unless You Win