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Understanding Cross-Border Injury Claims: A Guide for British Columbians Injured in Washington

Being injured while traveling can be particularly stressful. Whether it is a car accident, a slip or trip and fall, or any number of causes for personal injury, there is an added layer of logistical stress and uncertainty when you are away from home. If you are a resident of British Columbia and you have been injured across the border in Washington State, our team of cross-border personal injury lawyers may be uniquely positioned to help in your case.

We are happy to address your questions, and ensure you are informed about your legal rights. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

What Is a Cross-Border Injury Claim?

A cross-border injury claim involves a resident of one jurisdiction being injured in another. For example, a Vancouver resident might drive down to Seattle for a concert, and get into an accident while they’re in Washington State. If they’re not at fault, they may have a tort claim. This will be a Washington State tort claim, pursuant to Washington law. The at-fault driver may be liable to pay damages, which will be covered by their insurance.

However, people in Washington often have very limited insurance – usually around $25,000 in third-party policy benefits. This means that there may not be enough insurance money to compensate an individual for their injury in Washington State. If the injured person is a BC resident, they may be able to access their ICBC insurance to top them up. Every ICBC-insured driver and members of their household have a million dollars of Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP).

What is Underinsured Motorist Protection?

Underinsured motorist protection is intended to protect an injured person when the party at fault for their injuries does not have enough insurance to cover the costs.

Let’s use a hypothetical example to explore how UMP might work. Joe Smith, a resident of Vancouver, drives down to Seattle and gets rear-ended at a traffic light, at high speed, from a Washingtonian who is on their cell phone. The Washingtonian only carries $25,000 of insurance, and Joe’s injuries will cost $100,000. He is going to collect that $25,000 through a Washington claim, and still be owed $75,000. How will he collect this money?

Pursuant to the Commercial Arbitration Act, Joe may have a claim in British Columbia. He may either settle for what he is owed with ICBC, or he may go to arbitration, which is a private hearing wherein an arbitrator may decide on the claim.

Our team of cross-border personal injury lawyers have handled hundreds of UMP claims. We understand the policy in Washington, and we know how to try cases in BC. Working with Border Solutions Law Group means having a team with you from beginning to end, across international boundaries.

What Should You Do if You’re a Canadian Injured in Washington?

First, make sure you receive the medical care you need. If your injuries do not require you to go to the hospital from the scene of the accident, make sure you see your primary care physician once you return home. Having a medical assessment can be crucial to your claim.

You should also contact us at Border Solutions Law Group right away. We may be able to help guide you through the process, from the very beginning.

If you are a British Columbia resident injured in Washington State and wish to pursue a claim, you should report your claim to ICBC. ICBC will give you a claim number, and will then provide you with no-fault benefits. This goes towards treatment such as physiotherapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, and more.

What Happens if the Defendant’s Insurance Company Contacts Me?

You have no duty to communicate with the defendant’s insurance company. They may reach out asking you to sign a release for your medical record – this is likely to be against your best interests. With access to your medical history, they might try to make a case that your injuries were caused by past trauma and not this accident. It may be best not to speak with the defendant’s insurance company at all.

The only duty you have to report a claim is to ICBC, so you can access your no-fault benefits.

What Are the Most Common Personal Injuries?

Car accidents are a leading cause of injury worldwide. Injuries themselves range vastly, from minor to life-threatening. Some of the most common personal injuries include:

  • Whiplash
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Neck injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • And more

The process of recovery can differ vastly, depending on the particular circumstances. A person may be out of work as a result of their injuries, all the while incurring costs associated with medical and rehabilitative treatments such as physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and more. Working with a cross-border personal injury lawyer may help to relieve some of the financial stress. Contact us today to learn how we might help you access the compensation you deserve.

Is a Canadian Travelling to the US Subject to Both Canadian and US Laws?

In Washington, you are subject to Washington Law. Then, if successful in bringing the case back to British Columbia, you are subject to British Columbia law. This is where it may be vital to work with a team of lawyers, such as Border Solutions Law Group, who have a working knowledge of both sets of laws, have worked in both jurisdictions, and are licensed to do so.

How Much Money Can a Person Expect to Get in a Cross-Border Personal Injury Claim?

The amount of money a person can expect to receive in a cross-border personal injury claim depends on the particular circumstances of the case. Border Solutions Law Group has settled cases for $50,000, as well as multiple millions. Last year, Managing Partner Mark Belanger settled a case for about 7 million dollars. In an average claim, one might expect around $100,000. The amounts vary widely, contingent on the many unique factors of each case.

What Kinds of Costs Does a Personal Injury Settlement Cover?

The money you may receive in a personal injury claim is typically divided into different categories, or elements, known as Heads of Damages. They include pain and suffering, as well as economic losses.

Economic losses are clearly identifiable and quantifiable losses, such as:

  • Wage loss
  • Cost of future care
  • Loss of housekeeping capacity
  • Medical bills
  • And more

Pain and suffering damages are meant to compensate the injured party for losses that are not as easy to quantify. In making calculations, the court may consider the impacts of an injury on a person’s day to day life, including how it has affected their life expectancy, access to enjoyment of life, and more.

Contact Border Solutions Law Group for a Free Initial Consultation

Are you a British Columbian injured in Washington State? It may be in your best interests to work with a personal injury lawyer who understands the nuances of a cross-border claim. Contact us today to see how Border Solutions Law Group might be able to help. Call us at 877-341-0315 or complete our online form, and book your free initial consultation today.