Cross Border Injury Claims | Washington State

Whether you’re a British Columbia resident injured in a car accident while visiting Washington state, or a U.S. resident injured in a car accident while visiting B.C., our firm has the resources and expertise to provide you with the legal representation required to ensure you’re compensated fairly.

B.C. residents injured in Washington State

Whether you are visiting on business or taking a holiday, there remains a risk of being injured in a motor vehicle accident after crossing the U.S. border.

Should this occur, seeking fair compensation for your injuries requires a keen understanding of the applicable insurance coverage and the complex interplay between competing legal jurisdictions.

For example, when a BC resident is injured in a car accident in Seattle, a key question is, which laws apply in determining liability, and what is the amount of compensation available? If the accident is caused by a U.S. motorist with low insurance coverage, the determination of fault is guided by the laws of Washington State, whereas the compensation is dictated by the laws of British Columbia. This is because ICBC is required to cover any insurance shortages pursuant to “underinsured motorist protection” regulations (also known as UMP).

This is an important consideration since Washington State laws only require drivers to maintain a minimum of $25,000 in third party insurance coverage, and many motorists do not opt for additional protection. As a result, a significant percentage of cross border injury claims involve an “underinsured motorist”, thereby involving ICBC and triggering the need for a B.C. lawyer.

Also, although recent legislation in BC has imposed a $5,500 cap on compensation for “pain and suffering” for “minor injuries”, in Washington State there is no such limitation. That said, even if the potential for compensation can be significantly higher in Washington, it can also be dramatically diluted by legal expenses which, unlike in BC, each party is responsible for covering. The key is knowing which claims are worth litigating, which jurisdiction to litigate, and which claims require an expedited settlement.

Given our legal experience and partnerships with firms across the border, we can ensure effective legal representation through all stages of litigation, no matter which jurisdiction or insurance coverage applies.

Contact us at 604 336 8000 or fill out our Contact form here and one of our lawyers will get back to you within the same day.

Washington State residents injured in B.C.

Like Washington State, British Columbia has a “tort” system that allows car accident victims to sue the at-fault driver for injury compensation. When this occurs, the at-fault driver’s insurance provider, ICBC, steps in to defend and eventually resolve the claim. Access to injury compensation is available to anyone who is injured in a motor vehicle accident within B.C., regardless of whether they are a resident or are visiting from a foreign country.

Washington State residents can rest assured that B.C. drivers are required to carry a significantly higher third party coverage than those in the U.S.. The minimum policy in B.C. is $200,000, while most drivers carry at least $2 million dollars in third party policy limits. Therefore, unlike with accidents that occur in Washington State, those who are injured in B.C. are typically able to obtain full compensation from the other driver’s insurance.

It is also important to note that commencing a claim in B.C. does not require a foreign resident to remain in our jurisdiction. Indeed, we represent clients from across the globe who suffered injuries while visiting our country and return to their homeland shortly thereafter. Our job is to simply move the litigation along while our injured clients focus on their recovery at home.

Contact us at 604 336 8000 or fill out our Contact form here and one of our lawyers will get back to you within the same day.

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