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Vancouver Cross Border Injury Lawyers and Claims

Being in such close proximity to the US border makes it easy for Vancouver residents to drive to Washington State. Whether taking a family road trip, enjoying a weekend shopping trip, or even commuting for work-related purposes, Vancouverites have plenty of reasons for driving across the international border.

Unfortunately, motor vehicle collisions can happen anytime, anywhere. Car accidents can and do occur on international trips. Regardless of how straightforward the process of crossing the US-Canada border may be, being involved in a collision on American soil can quickly turn into a complicated matter.

Even though their collision might have occurred only a short distance from their hometown, Vancouver residents who have been injured in cross-border accidents can face confusing legal challenges. Cross-border accident claims are often subject to different – occasionally conflicting – laws and insurance procedures. Questions about liability, available compensation, responsibility for legal fees, and other important issues can arise while pursuing a cross-border injury claim. That is why it is important for Canadians injured in the US to work with cross-border accident lawyers who are familiar with the claims processes in both their home province and the state in which the accident took place.

If you are a Vancouver resident who was injured in a car accident in the United States, our cross-border injury lawyers may be able to help you through the complicated process of pursuing compensation. To learn more about options that might be available to you, contact us today.

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What Should I Do if I’m a BC Resident Who Was Injured in the US?

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision while visiting Washington (or another American state), first and foremost, it is important to seek medical attention. Doing so can be frightening for Canadians who are concerned about the high cost of healthcare in the US. However, delaying medical examinations and treatments can be even more damaging in the long run.

Symptoms of injuries sustained in motor vehicle collisions do not always present immediately; it could take hours, days, or even weeks for an injured accident survivor to feel the full severity of their injuries.

Some other important steps to take after being injured while driving abroad include:

  • Gather information: Try to get the contact and insurance information of all drivers involved in the accident, as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  • Take photos: If possible, take photos of the accident scene, the damage to the vehicles, and any visible injuries you sustained.
  • File a police report: Contact the police to report the accident and ask for a copy of the police report.
  • Notify ICBC: Contact ICBC as soon as possible to report the accident and begin the claims process.
  • Keep records: Keep all documentation related to the accident, including medical bills, police reports, and correspondence with insurance companies.
  • Consult a personal injury lawyer: Call 1-800-JUSTICE to schedule a free initial consultation with our Vancouver injury lawyers and learn more about pursuing the compensation you deserve.

Since navigating cross-border accident claims can be an involved and complicated process, Vancouver residents who have been injured in car accidents on US soil should not hesitate to take advantage of their free initial consultation with our cross-border injury lawyers. Our Vancouver ICBC lawyers appreciate that, in the aftermath of a collision in another country, accident survivors may find the process of filling out a claim and pursuing compensation to be a confusing and complex task. That is why we do our best to explain the process in a simple, straightforward manner, and navigate the intricacies of each client’s case.

Even though BC motorists should be able to access ICBC accident benefits after being injured in a collision, the insurance coverage to which they might be entitled may be too low to cover their total injury-related financial losses. Given the much higher cost of healthcare and medical treatments in the US, Canadians injured in cross-border car accidents could face serious, life-changing financial challenges.

Injured survivors of motor vehicle collisions may choose to pursue cross-border injury claims to recover damages incurred as a result of their accident. However, these claims are usually subject to the laws of jurisdiction in which the collision occurred, further complicating the process of recovering fair compensation.

Furthermore, it is common for US drivers to have low insurance policies. In Washington, drivers can have as little as $25,000 in insurance coverage, which is wholly inadequate to cover most injury claims. Fortunately, everyone with a driver’s license or insurance coverage in BC has underinsured motorist protection (UMP), which “tops up” the available insurance proceeds to at least $1 million, potentially more.

UMP claims proceed through an arbitration procedure with ICBC. The formula of compensation is complicated. UMP coverage also usually requires accident victims to seek ICBC’s approval before settling any part of their US car accident claim. Otherwise, the available coverage could be forfeited. It is crucial for any BC resident to seek legal advice from a cross-border injury lawyer before taking any steps to settle a US car accident claim.

How Do Cross-Border Accident Claims Work for Canadians Injured in the US?

After being injured in a cross-border car accident, it is natural to have many questions. Which insurance provider is responsible for paying injured victims? What happens if the American driver responsible for the collision has lower insurance coverage than the injured Canadian accident survivor? How much time does a Canadian have to pursue a civil claim against an American? What happens if both drivers involved in the collision were both visiting the US from Canada?

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are not always straightforward or easy to understand. When cross-border accidents occur in Washington, the determination of fault is subject to that state’s laws. However, the available compensation is determined by BC standards and regulations. Accidents that occur in different American states are, similarly, subject to their own laws and insurance policies.

In Washington, motor vehicle operators are only required to carry $25,000 worth of third-party liability insurance. This is significantly lower than the $200,000 worth of third-party liability coverage included in ICBC’s standard auto insurance plans.

If you were injured by a motorist who only has the minimum amount of third-party liability insurance required of them by Washington state law, ICBC should cover your remaining losses under your plan’s basic Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP). In basic auto insurance plans, UMP provides at least $1 million per household member injured in collisions.

Vancouver residents who have been injured in a cross-border motor vehicle collision caused by a negligent driver may be able to pursue additional compensation from the at-fault American driver by filing a civil claim against them. These actions will typically be defended by the negligent driver’s American insurance company, and should the matter go to trial, the case will be heard in the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred. That means, if you were injured in a car accident in Washington State and your civil claim must be decided in court, the proceedings will take place in Washington.

Cross-border civil actions are subject to the local statute of limitations. In BC, injured accident victims usually have up to two years to pursue legal action (if they are eligible to do so at all). In Washington State, this time limitation is different. That is why it is imperative to speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Waiting too long to take legal action could disqualify you from pursuing the compensation you deserve.

Sometimes, two drivers from BC are involved in the same out-of-province collision. In these coincidental situations, the parties involved in the collision may agree to settle the matter back in their home province. However, since the introduction of ICBC’s no-fault, “enhanced care” insurance coverage on May 1, 2021, drivers no longer have the right to pursue car accident claims (except in certain circumstances). That being the case, one party may try to ensure that the case is heard in Washington, where they might have a greater likelihood of recovering compensation. In these situations, a cross-border accident lawyer may be able to help secure a court order to settle the claim in BC.

If you were injured in a cross-border car accident and wish to pursue a civil claim for damages against the at-fault driver whose vehicle is registered in Washington State, the process of pursuing justice can seem overwhelming. However, our Vancouver injury lawyers may be able to help you make the process as seamless and uncomplicated as possible, so that you can recover the compensation to which you should be entitled.

What Types of Compensation Might Be Available to Canadians Injured in the US?

Vancouver residents who pursue a cross-border civil claim for damages as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident in Washington state may be able to recover various types of damages, including:

  • Medical expenses: This can include any costs associated with medical treatment, such as hospital bills, doctor’s fees, and the cost of prescription medication.
  • Lost wages: If the individual is unable to work as a result of the accident, they may be able to claim compensation for any lost income.
  • Future loss of earning capacity: If the injuries sustained in the accident affect the individual’s ability to work in the future, they may be able to claim compensation for any future loss of income.
  • Property damage: If the individual’s vehicle or personal property was damaged in the accident, they may be able to claim compensation for repairs or replacement.
  • Pain and suffering: These damages are designed to compensate the individual for the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident.

Recently, new BC legislation imposed a cap on pain and suffering damages available to injured survivors of motor vehicle collisions. However, this limitation does not exist in Washington State. That being the case, if you are a Vancouver resident who was injured while visiting the US, you may be able to pursue higher amounts of compensation in a cross-border injury claim.

The Benefits of Cross-Border Insurance

Under ICBC’s new “enhanced care” insurance model, policyholders are covered for accidents that occur anywhere in Canada and the United States. That means, the terms of your basic Autoplan apply to collisions that occur while visiting Washington state.

However, drivers who are visiting the US or who travel to Washington frequently may benefit from purchasing extended coverage. Accidents can happen to anyone, even the most cautious driver. When Vancouver residents are deemed responsible for collisions that occur in Washington state, they may find themselves the subject of an American civil action. This can be financially devastating, given the lack of certain limitations on damages claimants in the US are entitled to pursue. By purchasing extended third-party liability coverage, BC drivers may find some additional peace of mind should they be responsible for causing a collision while visiting the US.

Being injured in a collision can have lifelong impacts. Given the exorbitant cost of healthcare in the US, people who are suddenly and severely injured can lose their livelihoods. Generations of their family can be impacted by medical debt. That is why, even if you are visiting the US for even a short period of time, it can be beneficial to purchase travel insurance. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

More Questions? Schedule a Free Initial Consultation

Our Vancouver cross-border injury lawyers know that being involved in a collision in the US can be a complicated and confusing matter. To receive personalized feedback about your case and learn about compensation that may be available to you, book a free initial consultation by calling 1-800-JUSTICE.

Connect With Our Legal Team

Schedule a call with our personal injury legal intake team. Our team is available 24/7 so call us now to book your call. Our scheduled intake allows you to tell us details about your accident and gives our legal team an opportunity to review your case and advise you on possible solutions and outcomes. The best part is, if you decide to hire us after this call - you don't pay anything unless we win. We can help clients regardless of where they reside in British Columbia so let us help you get started on your road to recovery.


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