Personal Injury Law in Canada vs. the United States

There are situations that arise where we may find ourselves asking the question of what the differences in law between countries like Canada and the United States are. As we are neighboring countries, there certainly are situations where we may find ourselves in a personal injury case in the country which is not our own. We will look at the differences and similarities below listed by Medler Law Firm.

The good news is that the differences between these two countries are not so much as to be unrecognizable. One area that you will notice an immediate difference in is the way that attorneys go about preparing to take a case to the court room.

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In America a court case is often centered around the 12 jurors that have been selected. While it is true that certain areas of law need to be meet, much of it is about getting the jurors to side one way or the other. The attorney for the plaintiff will prepare to prove that circumstances have been met to find the defendant liable for damages. Then, the lawyer will try to show the jurors how productive and good the plaintiff has been and how the injury will affect the remainder of their life.

From this effort, the lawyer tries to convince the jurors not just to find in favor of the plaintiff, but to do so with a big settlement.

The defending attorney will try to convince the juror and the court that the defendant is not guilty and is not liable. If they are found to be liable then the defending attorney will try to argue a case that minimizes financial award from the court.

In these cases, there are the direct suffering and cost of the injury itself, as well as damages that stem from emotional distress, loss of income, and others that are considered when determining the total settlement.

In the U.S. considerable effort is made by both sides to settle outside the courtroom. For the defendant, there is always the issue that a jury can get emotionally connected to what happened and award massive payouts. For the plaintiff, it is often difficult to wait for months or even years to finally get a settlement that is paid on. For this reason, they too, often seek to settle.

For the attorneys involved, settlements often keep both in good standings with their clients as it often saves the defendant money and the plaintiff time.

In Canada, the process of a courtroom battle is considerably different. The Canadian attorney prepares a wide range of briefs that serves to make their case. Whereas in the U.S. the use of expert testimony is used by both sides of the case. This is not done in Canada. So the use of dramatics and theatrics is considerably less in Canada.

In both the U.S. and Canada it is necessary to prove that someone is at fault and to a degree that warrants them liable. But how liable is determined is different between the two countries. When a defective product is involved for instance, Canada uses a stated standard of negligence which it uses the gauge the degree of liable for a defective product.

In the U.S., if a manufacturer has been found to have a defective product, then it means in general terms that they are fully liable for any injury occurring from the products defects. In this case, once it has been determined that a U.S. company has a defective product that caused an injury, that company is then held responsible for payment of all related cost. This includes medical, loss of wages, pain and suffering, loss of health and future enjoyment of life and so on.

In Canada, this is assessed under the standards set forth by law and is therefore not an automatic complete charge of liability for all matters of cost. Interestingly this would be seen outrageous to most Americans and yet is viewed as quite reasonable to most Canadians.

In most situations, a plaintiff that wins their case will be rewarded a much larger settlement in the U.S. than is likely to occur in Canada. But there is one area that Canada is more favorable. In American law, there are no provisions that allow plaintiffs to recover their cost related to their case.

The expense of getting all the necessary medical records, or the fact that experts that are called to testify do so because they are paid to do so, are all examples of cost that a plaintiff is obligated to pay and is not able to recover payment for, as part of the settlement. In Canadian law however, these expenses are recoverable.

There are other differences in these two countries and how attorneys conduct themselves. In the U.S. there has been a rise in those that graduate law school and pass the bar exam in their state. This has led to lawyers competing for your business. To most individuals in the U.S., and many in Canada, the idea of peddling services to those who have legitimate injuries received from the negligence of others, is repulsive.

But due to such large increases in U.S. attorneys, it has become the case. For a very long time, American lawyers have been actively advertising their office and services. Canada did not allow this until recent years. But beginning in the early 2000’s advertising became somewhat acceptable and was at least allowed by law.

From that time many personal injury lawyers in Canada have begun following suit with the Americans and advertising their services. While it is still done considerably more aggressive in the U.S., Canada is quickly picking up speed. Some Canadians fear that it will not be long before personal injury lawyers are every bit as aggressive with advertising their services as the Americans are.

The question now being asked in both countries is if advertising is good for the legal profession. But even more important is the question of whether it is good for the clients.

Certainly this is a question that will continue to be debated as long as there are attorneys and plaintiffs that need their help.