The US and Canada have long been known to share many of the same core legal principles. However, when it comes to their actual processes, the two countries have a few major differences. For one thing, US citizens seem to be comparatively more litigious than Canadian systems with more than three times as many lawsuits per capita. It’s possible that this is because of the differences in the legal system and the amount that a plaintiff can receive. Let’s take a look at what some of those main differences are.
Compensation for pain and suffering
In the US, each state is responsible for determining its own limits for pain and suffering award amounts. Some states cap only the amounts that can be awarded for pain and suffering in medical malpractice suits. And some set limits on it for all types of lawsuits. Close to half the states don’t have a limit in all. On the other hand, Canada has a nationwide cap on pain and suffering damages of around $300,000. The difference here is that a plaintiff in a lawsuit in America can walk away with a lot more money than they can in Canada, no matter what the situation.
One such incident was a medical malpractice suit in Virginia. A woman sued her gynecologist for a failed tubal ligation after she gave birth to a baby. The jury found the physician liable for damages and requested he pay the mother $39,000 for medical and $9,000 in lost wages. However, the mother was ultimately awarded almost $2,000,000 in total. That means that almost the entire amount she was given was for non-monetary damages caused by pain and suffering.
In Canada, no matter how big the amount a judge finds the defendant liable for, the amount for pain and suffering damages will never be allowed to exceed $300,000. But even the US states that have caps are usually higher than the limit in Canada.
In the US, all parties in a legal matter are typically responsible for their own court costs. This is unless, they are appointed an attorney by the court that will be paid for by the state. However, in Canada, the losing party can be held liable for the winner’s costs. So, if you hire a personal injury lawyer Kelowna and win the case, the loser in the trial may have to reimburse you for those expenses. But the costs are on sliding scales. The court may decide the loser is responsible for substantial indemnity, which is up to 80 percent of the costs. Or they may be held liable for partial indemnity, which would cover up to 50 percent of the costs. These rulings are made entirely by the presiding judge.
The role of the court systems
In both the US and Canada, each state or province has its own government entities and one federal government. But in Canada, the federal courts are much less involved. In the US, for example, any federal laws governing personal injury suits will automatically overrule state laws. In Canada, they very rarely get involved in such cases. Also, in Canada, judges are appointed by the government, making them much less susceptible to local political influences.
Canada’s hearings also differ quite a bit from the ones in the US. In America, one judge presides over an entire case. But in Canada, there may be various judges that hear particular parts of it. And they don’t typically use a jury as the US courts do. Another key difference is the way Canada establishes precedence. Canada is apt to look at previous court rulings from other countries in order to make decisions, whereas US courts only use American cases.