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What happens if you get in a car accident while visiting Canada?


Americans cross the border into Canada each day for both pleasure and business. Some of those visitors learn the hard way that a car accident is just as likely in friendly Canada as they are in the United States.

Americans who suffer injuries after an automobile accident in Canada may be entitled to compensation. But they will first need to know the steps and procedures that should govern their actions after the accident.  

Car accident

The Canadian accident claims process

Canada is no different than the United States. It has a civil justice system that allows accident victims to make claims against a negligent party after an accident. Canada’s basic auto insurance plans will cover both injuries and deaths sustained by Americans visiting the country.  

The Canadian insurance claims process is often a cause of major frustration for accident victims. But this frustration can reach an entirely different level when visiting a foreign country.

What to do after an accident

The steps an American will need to take in the aftermath of a traffic accident in Canada are not much different than if the accident happened in their home country.

  • Seek medical attention – Many car accident claims come down to the injuries an accident victim can prove. Motorists who sustain serious injuries from an accident will likely leave in an ambulance to a local emergency room. But you should be seen by a medical professional even if your injuries are not apparent.
  • Call authorities – It is always a good idea to involve law enforcement when an accident happens on the road. But calling the police becomes an absolute necessity for Americans who suffer an accident in Canada if the joint damage for every vehicle involved in the collision exceeds $2,000 or one of the drivers is guilty of a criminal offense like drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs. If the total damage is less than $2,000 or no one is guilty of a criminal offense, you will have to contact a Collision Reporting Centre within a day of the accident. Call (416) 745-3301 for more info on the nearest center near you or check out https://accsupport.com/.
  • Exchange information – All drivers involved in an accident should make sure they share contact information with other drivers. After you have contacted a Collision Reporting Center, you will be required to complete a police report and document the extent of the damage done to your vehicle.
  • Gather evidence – You should take photos of your vehicle, other vehicles involved in the accident, and the accident site. It is also a good idea to write down the contact information of any witnesses to the accident. If your car is equipped with a dashboard camera, it will be much easier to document the incident.
  • Contact an attorney – You will then need to contact an insurance company at some point. But if the accident was severe, it is a good idea to talk to an insurance company representative only after speaking with an attorney. A local car accident lawyer for motor vehicle accident damages in the province where the accident occurred will be the best person to help you navigate Canadian laws and local insurance companies’ practices when an accident occurs.

The good news is that in most provinces, Canadian drivers are required to purchase mandatory minimum coverage, but because in recent years, the rates have gone down to make insurance more affordable, insurance payouts to accident victims have been reduced as well.

Why legal representation is sometimes necessary

If you were injured in the car crash, you could still file a personal injury claim in Canada, even if you are an American. The Canadian civil justice system is very similar to the American civil justice system when it comes to injures caused to a person through the negligence or recklessness of another party.

So, Americans injured in cross-border accidents can seek compensation for their injuries under Canadian law, but due to the technicalities of such cases, it is best to talk to a lawyer for motor vehicle accident damages first.

Settling claims for cross-border accidents is a complicated process. Accident victims must first determine where the claims process will play out. The factors that guide this decision include driver nationalities and insurance coverage for each driver. Claim filings in both countries will happen in some cases.  

A local attorney familiar with the Canadian accident claims process will be able to negotiate settlements on your behalf, communicate with the insurance carriers of all the parties involved in the crash, and litigate complex issues when it is necessary to do so in a Canadian court.  

It is also important to remember that a judge in the province where the motor vehicle accident occurred usually oversees proceedings associated with a motor vehicle accident. This procedure could become problematic for U.S. citizens who are unable to travel regularly to the country. An attorney may be able to solve these issues by making appearances for the accident victim. 

How Canadian insurers determine fault

Most U.S. auto policies are also valid in Canada, so you won’t have to buy a separate auto policy when paying the Great white North a visit. But in the wake of a car crash in Canada, just like in the U.S.A., your insurance payouts will largely depend on fault.

Each Canadian province has its own fault determination rules. Canadian insurers must stick to these regional fault determination rules and the Canadian Insurance Act when establishing drivers’ fault. 

In Ontario, for instance, if you were 1 to 24% at fault for the car accident, auto insurance premiums will not be affected, but the at-fault drivers will have the crash on their driving records. From 25% and up, car insurance premiums will increase upon the next policy renewal.

But insurance companies will need evidence to determine the fault. And if the evidence is sketchy, like conflicting eyewitness testimonies or driver accounts, insurers usually divide the fault evenly.

By: Kerry L. Tucker

Early in his journalism career, Kerry L. Tucker had a revelation: there were not enough experts reporting on law issues. Legal matters are part of daily life. Yet, there seems to be a general aversion towards them. One of the main reasons for this is that the convoluted legal language is difficult for many people to follow. Therefore, he decided to change how the law is perceived by the public. Throughout his career, he met with many people who shared their personal stories with him. Some of these hit him harder. One of the cases that stayed with him and influenced his future career development was a car accident case involving a child. From then on, he decided to zero in on car accident lawsuits.

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