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How Cross-Border Injury Claims Differ From Domestic Claims in Canada

Upwards of 20 million Canadians travel to the US every year, whether for work, visiting friends and family, or as a tourist. When injuries occur, Canadians traveling abroad may still be eligible for financial compensation, as they would have had the accident occurred domestically. However, there are some key differences between cross-border and domestic injury claims in Canada.

Whatever your specific case, our team of British Columbia cross-border injury lawyers would be happy to address your questions and see how we may be of service to you. Contact us today to learn more.

Cross-Border Injury Claims: An Overview

Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common forms of claims. Whether you are injured within Canada or across the border in the US, you may be eligible to receive financial benefits to help cover the costs of your medical bills, rehabilitative care (eg. physiotherapy, massages), and income you have lost as a result of your injuries.

If you have been injured within British Columbia, your claim will be directly with ICBC. If you have been injured in Washington State, you may first file a tort claim against the driver at fault for your accident, then seek reimbursement for any remaining costs through an Underinsured Motorist Protection claim with ICBC. With an understanding of the legal particularities of both jurisdictions, our British Columbia cross-border injury lawyers may be able to help you navigate the process.

Differences Between US Insurance Companies and ICBC

ICBC, or Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is a Crown corporation, meaning it is government-owned. US insurance companies are often private, which means they answer to shareholders at the end of each quarter. A major difference between these two models is the focus of their priorities. In a private company, the insurers may be cognizant of the bottom line, seeking to deliver good results to shareholders. With a Crown corporation, there is no beholdenness to shareholders – there is a public duty interest to actually provide insurance to policy holders. The culture of insurance is therefore quite different between the US and Canada.

How Are the Damages Handled Differently in Washington and BC?

There is no cap on damages in Washington State. If an injured person is awarded $1 million on pain and suffering, that is the amount they receive. In Canada, there is a cap, which, adjusted for inflation, is likely somewhere around $400,000. This means that in Canada, if you have sustained the most catastrophic injury imaginable, you are getting $400,000 for pain and suffering. You are, however, entitled to 100% of your economic losses – whether that be a wage loss or loss of housekeeping capacity.

Though there is no cap on damages in Washington State, a common issue is the limited insurance with which most drivers operate their vehicles. The minimum coverage is $25,000, which means you would receive a maximum of $25,000 should you be injured by a driver with this policy – even if the total cost of your injuries is far greater.

For a Canadian injured in Washington State, ICBC’s Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP) may be able to cover the remainder of your damages, up to $1 million. Our British Columbia cross-border personal injury lawyers would be happy to address your questions on this process. 

What Is the Difference in How Legal Costs Are Handled in Washington State vs BC?

Costs and disbursements in British Columbia are recoverable, while costs and disbursements in Washington State are not. Working with a lawyer who understands the nuances of cross-border injury law can be essential to making informed choices throughout the process.

Because of the difference in the recoverability of costs and disbursements between Canada and the United States, it is important to be mindful of how you spend your money. With the exception of a catastrophic injury claim, the strategic goal may be to minimize the amount you spend in the United States. 

Our team of cross-border personal injury lawyers may be able to help you receive ICBC coverage for expenses incurred in Washington, as part of a settlement. To learn more on what may be possible in your specific case, contact us today.

What Are the Differences in Limitation Periods Between Washington State and BC?

A statute of limitations is a limit on how long you have after the accident to begin legal action. In Washington, there is a three-year limitation date, meaning you must file and serve within three years of the accident. In BC, you must file within two years, and serve within three. Both actions (filing and serving) must have transpired before the three-year anniversary of the event.

Contact Border Solutions Law Group for a Free Initial Consultation

If you have been injured in an accident, be it a motor vehicle collision or a slip and fall, you may be eligible for compensation. Whether your accident took place across the border or domestically within Canada, our team of British Columbia personal injury lawyers may be able to help. Contact us today at Border Solutions Law Group to set up your free initial consultation.