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Statute of Limitations in Cross-Border Injury Claims

When you or a loved one are injured across the border, pursuing legal action can be complex. Although you may be entitled to seek compensation through a cross-border injury claim, distinct laws and regulations in each country, like their differing statutes of limitations, may affect your case. Because the statute of limitations for personal injury cases differs between British Columbia and Washington State, the location of your accident will play a significant role in how and when you file your claim.

At Border Solutions Law Group, our cross-border personal injury lawyers can help make sure your claim has been filed before the statute of limitations on your case has elapsed. With advice from lawyers who are licensed in both British Columbia and Washington State, you won’t have to deal with the complexities of multiple legal systems alone. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation about your cross-border injury claim.

What is a Cross-Border Injury Claim?

A cross-border injury claim occurs when a resident of one country is injured in another country and wishes to seek compensation for their injuries. For example, due to their proximity, residents of British Columbia often file cross-border injury claims for accidents that happened in Washington State, and vice versa.

If you require insurance coverage or believe the cause of your injury was not your own doing, you may have to seek remedies across the border. Cross-border injury claims are unique because laws and insurance differ depending on the country where the accident occurred. As a result, you may have to file two claims at once. Whatever the situation, it is important to note that cross-border injury claims may be dealt with differently depending on whether your accident occurred in British Columbia or Washington State.

What is a Statute of Limitation?

A statute of limitation is a limit on how long you have after an accident occurs to take legal action. The statute of limitations will differ depending on the type of claim involved and the jurisdiction where it is filed. If you fail to begin your claim before the designated limitation date, you may no longer pursue legal action relating to your injury. You must file a lawsuit and serve the lawsuit to the named defendant before the statute of limitations elapses to perfectly file your claim.

Statute of Limitations in Washington State vs. British Columbia

The statute of limitations for cross-border injury claims differs between Washington State and British Columbia and will affect your case accordingly. It is important to know the difference to avoid your claim becoming ineligible.

If you are injured in Washington State, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 3 years from your date of injury to file a claim relating to the incident. If the incident occurred due to the negligence of another party, you must officially file a lawsuit against them before the three-year limitation date passes. You must also serve the defendant with the lawsuit within this period. If you file your claim before the three-year period has elapsed, you may be granted an additional 90 days to serve your lawsuit over and above the three-year limitation date. If you fail to complete your filing by this time, you will have exceeded the statute of limitations in Washington and will no longer be eligible to pursue your claim.

If you are injured in British Columbia, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 2 years from your date of injury to file a claim. Once your claim has been filed, you are provided 1 additional year to serve the defendant with your lawsuit. While it is necessary to file your initial claim earlier in British Columbia than in Washington State, a total of 3 years can be taken to perfect your filing. Failure to file and serve your claim by the limitation date will result in your claim being barred from pursual.

What if I Can’t Serve the Defendant in Time?

Finding and serving the defendant with a lawsuit before the statute of limitations on a case elapses is a common obstacle faced by individuals filing cross-border injury claims. It can be difficult to locate the party involved in your accident if they do not live in the same country as you or moved before you filed your claim. If you are worried that the statute of limitations on your case will pass before you can perfect your filing, there are steps you can take to proceed with your claim.

In Washington State, the Non-Residence Motorist Statute allows for the Secretary of State to accept service on behalf of the defendant if they cannot be personally served. A claimant must demonstrate they’ve made sufficient attempts to locate the defendant before they appeal to the Secretary of State by:

  • Attempting to serve the lawsuit at every available address listed for the defendant, and;
  • Attempting service at the defendant’s last known address at least 5 times

This statute also applies in cases where the defendant is not a resident of Washington State and cannot be personally served. In British Columbia, the ICBC can accept service on behalf of a defendant if they cannot be served before the statute of limitations has elapsed.

What if the Statute of Limitations on My Case Has Already Passed?

You may wish to file a cross-border injury claim after the statute of limitations in the jurisdiction where your accident occurred has already passed. However, it is extremely rare for a claim to be eligible if it is filed after its limitation date. This will likely be the case even if circumstances delay you from filing your claim or you realize compensation is necessary only after the limitation date has passed.

Certain exceptions may apply if you require additional payment sources when compensation awarded by a court is in excess of your insurance policy limit. Complex cases where claims exceed their limitation date may benefit from the assistance of an experienced cross-border personal injury lawyer. Contact our team at Border Solutions Law Group today for advice on the eligibility of your cross-border injury claim.

Contact Border Solutions Law Group For Advice on Cross-Border Injury Claims

Cross-border injury claims, statutes of limitations, and other complex jurisdictional differences can be difficult to navigate alone. When it comes to serving lawsuits and filing claims before your limitation date, our experienced cross-border injury lawyers can be of assistance. With a team that is dual-licensed in both British Columbia and Washington State, we can help you understand legal differences between countries that may affect your claim. Schedule your free initial consultation with us at Border Solutions Law Group today for advice about your cross-border injury claim.

Disclaimer: For specific legal advice on your cross-border personal injury matter, please consult with a personal injury lawyer. The content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and is instead intended to act as a general overview of a legal topic.