March 11, 2016Filed Under: Antonio's Blog

When Provinces Collide: Deciding where and who to sue

When Provinces Collide: Deciding where and who to sue

In Canada, laws are often different between provinces. Speed limits, drinking ages, and even car accident laws change from one province to the next. It gets a little complicated though when drivers from different provinces collide.

Take this recent example from the Ontario Court of Appeal: An Ontario woman was a passenger on a motorcycle owned and driven by an Alberta man. As they drove through British Columbia, the Albertan lost control and crashed, claiming he was cut off by an unidentified driver. The woman received medical treatment in all three mentioned provinces. In which province should the woman sue? Which province’s law applies?

Driver looking through the windshield of his car at the streetlights racing by.
Photo by Alan Cleaver via CC BY 2.0

The Ontario woman sued in Ontario. She sued both the Alberta motorcycle driver and her own car insurance. The Ontario woman had her own Ontario car insurance and sued because her own insurance will pay for damages caused by an unidentified driver.

For the accident itself and to determine negligence, the law of British Columbia applies. This means that even if the case is heard in Ontario or Alberta the presiding judge must apply the law of British Columbia. But the Albert driver’s insurance company argued that the case against the motorcycle driver could not be heard in Ontario because there was no real connection between the accident and the motorcycle driver to Ontario. The Court of Appeal agreed. The Court found that the Ontario woman could sue her own insurance company in Ontario but she could not sue the motorcycle driver in Ontario.

The Ontario Court did not make any comment on whether she could sue the driver in Alberta because that is where the motorcycle driver lived. Probably the most reasonable place to sue would be British Columbia because that is where the accident happened, even though we don’t know if the unidentified driver (who presumably caused the accident) was a resident of British Columbia.

Sometimes it gets complicated. Hopefully you will never need to find out how complicated. We’re experts in car accident law at Azevedo & Nelson. Call us at (416) 533-7133 for a free consultation.

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