Steps to Take if You Are a Canadian from Ontario Injured in Florida – The Basics
We come on the sloop John B
My grandfather and me
Around Nassau town we did roam
Drinkin’ all night
Got into a fight
Well, I feel so broke up
I wanna go home
Sloop John B, Brian Wilson
As mentioned in a previous Derfel Injury Law blog, the chances of someone getting injured while on vacation are higher than when they are at home. Vacations are usually taken to places that we are not familiar with or go to very often. Navigating unfamiliar roads and neighbourhoods and dealing with unfamiliar people, languages and customs can pose challenges that could lead to an unfortunate situation. On vacation, we are supposed to let loose, relax and enjoy ourselves to the fullest. The recipe for fun is also the recipe for accidents and injuries. Have fun but always be vigilant.
When someone is involved in an accident or injury while on vacation, taking the right steps afterwards is essential. Taking the right steps can help ensure a safe return home or prevent your vacation from being ruined altogether. Of course, the first thing that anyone should do is ensure their safety and well-being. Fleeing a dangerous situation, seeking medical attention and contacting the authorities are important immediate steps. However, what do you do after that? Let’s begin before your vacation even starts. Taking the right steps after an incident begins with taking the right steps before you leave for vacation.
Before You Travel: Make Sure You Have an Up-To-Date OHIP Card and Private Travel Health and Accident Insurance
Out-of-province and country OHIP coverage is so minimal that if you decide to travel without private travel health insurance, you should consider yourself to have no travel health or accident insurance whatsoever. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has a webpage that provides some information on OHIP out-of-county services. It is highly recommended that you visit the webpage Ontario Heath Insurance Plan OHIP Out of Country Services and the webpage OHIP coverage while outside Canada for more information about available OHIP coverage while travelling out of province and Canada. There is no guarantee that your provincial plan will cover your medical bills outside of Canada, and the Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.
It is best that you DO NOT rely on OHIP for travel health coverage. It is also best that you have a private travel health and accident insurance policy when travelling out of province or country.
An online search for travel health and accident insurance will bring up many options. It is best that you research the insurer or broker offering the policy to ensure they are licenced and can legally sell a policy. To verify that the insurance company is licenced to sell travel health and accident policies, you can check with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.
When choosing insurance, read the policy to ensure it has the coverage you need. Most importantly, make sure you complete the application as completely and correctly as possible. Insurance companies may deny coverage if there is incomplete or incorrect information on an application. What may have been an honest mistake or misunderstanding could result in you being responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills; don’t let this happen to you.
You may, however, already be covered under a policy with your employer, university or college. To make sure, contact your Human Resources department at work or your university or college to confirm coverage. Last, many credit cards include travel health and accident coverage. The type and availability of coverage varies from card to card. It is best that you contact your credit card company to confirm coverage, the type of coverage available, the limits of coverage and who is covered under the policy. Some credit cards only cover you if the flight or hotel was purchased with the card. Not being fully informed could result in you being responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills; don’t let this happen to you.
Despite the limited coverage offered by OHIP, most travel health and accident policies require you to have OHIP coverage in order to be covered under their policy. Make sure your OHIP card is up to date and not expiring before you plan on returning home. Regardless, OHIP should not be your only means of coverage while out of province or country.
Pre-Travel Preparation of All Necessary Contact Information and Medical History
Your insurance company will have contact information for when you are abroad and require immediate assistance. Make sure to put personal contacts, the contacts of your insurance company and those of the Government of Canada’s overseas offices in your phone, wallet, or anything that you are likely to have with you at all times while in Florida.
In addition to a list of contacts, try your best to bring with you some documentation, even if it is just a card in your wallet, that is easily accessible to you and emergency medical personnel and that would briefly outline your medical history, including any allergies and past surgeries, your current medication, your health coverage and emergency contacts.
- provide a list of physicians, clinics and hospitals
- contact your next of kin or person designated with the power of attorney to make decisions in case of your incapacity
- assist you in contacting your insurance company
- with your permission, contact your medical doctor in Canada and assist them in discussing your medical file with the local treating physician
- assist with a medical evacuation and safe transfer, including liaising with service providers
In Florida, the Consulate General of Canada to the United States’ contact information in Miami is as follows:
Street Address: 200 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 1600, Miami, Florida, U.S.A., 33131
Fax: (305) 374-6774
For a list of other consulate offices in the U.S., see here.
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada to the United States, in Washington.
On Your Travel: Next Steps Dependent on Nature of Injury or Accident
Document The Incident To The Best of Your Ability
Accidents and injuries can happen in a multitude of ways, such as a motor vehicle accident, an accident caused by external sources (e.g. an object falling on you, physical hazards, etc.), being a victim of crime, a slip and fall at an airport or an injury while on a plane. In these instances, immediately contact emergency services because their incident reports will be important for documenting your insurance claim.
You should also gather evidence of the incident and your injuries as soon as possible. Useful evidence can include:
- Photos of the accident or scene where the incident occurred
- Photos of your injury and the environment where the injury occurred
- Photos of the vehicle(s) in a motor vehicle accident
- Contact, license and insurance information of motorists involved in a motor vehicle accident
- Contact information of witnesses
Seek Medical Care from a Licensed Professional
If you do not require urgent care but still require treatment while in Florida, you should try calling your insurance company first for a referral to a nearby healthcare provider that can treat your injury. This way, you have an approved reference by the insurance company through which you have a policy and would make a claim.
If you require urgent care, it is best to attend the nearest hospital right away. Try to bring with you the contact and medical information/documentation that you prepared to carry with you on your trip in order to adequately inform the health care provider of your medical history.
Collect Proof of Treatment and Contact Your Insurance Company As Soon As Possible
The conditions of your insurance coverage may include specific timelines for claims. It is important that you inform yourself of those timelines prior to your travels, or as soon as possible. Likewise, there are conditions associated with payment—whether you have to pay for your treatment upfront or the insurer will be billed directly is dependent on your plan.
No matter what, make sure to receive an invoice or receipt outlining the details of your treatment, who treated you, when you received treatment and how much you paid if you paid upfront.
Seek Legal Assistance As Soon As Possible
If you are injured and are seeking compensation from the responsible or potentially responsible parties, you should consult with a legal professional as soon as possible. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact your auto insurer’s claims department as soon as possible to report the accident. Record, report and document; doing these three things will prove helpful down the road.
Regardless of the cause of your injury or insurance claim dispute, contact David Derfel, the Lawyer for Canadians, to discuss your options and the remedies that may be available to you. David can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at 416-847-3580 or toll-free at 1-844-2-DERFEL (1-844-233-7335). It is best to contact David as soon as possible after your injury or dispute to avoid missing a limitation period.
This blog was written by David Derfel and law student, Sanaz Sakhapour.