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Litigating out-of-province accidents

July 3, 2013

As the temperature rises, so will the number of Canadians driving their vehicles out of town, and some of these individuals will inevitably be injured in a car accidents in another jurisdiction, writes Toronto plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer David Tenszen.

“Once injured, usually after a relatively brief period of treatment out of province, accident victims return to Ontario to undergo the bulk of their rehabilitation and resume what they can of their normal lives. It is also in Ontario where they make their claims to their own Ontario no-fault benefit insurers.” writes Tenszen, a partner with a Personal Injury Alliance member firm.

“In these circumstances, the most convenient forum in which to litigate a motor vehicle accident claim is almost always in Ontario,” he continues.

It’s not only the residence of the plaintiff, but also his or her family members, friends and relatives, teachers or employers, treating doctors, rehabilitation therapists and others, many of whom will have to testify to prove the plaintiff’s damages.

Family members or friends often are witnesses to the accident, sometimes having been in the car when the accident occurred. However, despite Ontario being the most convenient forum, the province’s courts don’t always have jurisdiction over the claims. Tenszen says one year ago, in Club Resorts Ltd. v. Van Breda [2012] S.C.J. No. 17, the Supreme Court set out four presumptive factors that would allow an Ontario court to assume jurisdiction for foreign accident cases (subject to a defendant’s ability to rebut any presumption).

But the four factors are absent in many car accident cases, and if a foreign defendant does not voluntarily submit to the jurisdiction of the province, the plaintiff may well be forced to bring his or her claim out of province.

Ontario courts have recently had the opportunity to consider the effect of Van Breda with respect to two car accidents occurring in the state of New York.

The original version of this blog post can be read HERE.

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