Can an Attorney Handle Cases in Both the US and Canada?

Yes. But It takes a firm with Knowledge of the Law on both sides of the Border.

Lawyers For International Insurance Issues

Given the proximity of British Columbia and Washington State, and the ease of travel between them, many people who cross the border each day end up suffering injuries in a “foreign” country. Whether you are commuting to work, taking a short trip or even visiting a friend, the potential for a motor vehicle accident exists.

Unfortunately, the legal process for international accidents contains an additional layer of complexity. Throughout the history of our practice, the lawyers at Cross Border Law have endeavoured to become skilled at representing clients in both Canada and the United States. We understand the subtle legal nuances as well as the major administrative differences between the two countries.

Lawyers in Washington State, for example, might not understand how ICBC underinsured claims work. Additionally, there are significant strategic reasons for negotiating a settlement in one country before the other.

When you need a lawyer experienced in both Canada and the United States, call or email Cross Border Law.

What If I Was Injured and Had Whiplash and Need a Cross Border Attorney?

Whiplash — often referred to as a cervical sprain — is a spinal injury suffered due to the violent, sudden motion where the head is snapped in multiple directions outside the normal range of motion. This type of injury can be difficult to diagnose, and many injured individuals find it challenging to recover monetary damages. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can provide the guidance and representation you need.

Cervical sprains and soft tissue injuries do not usually present with visible indications of the damage done. Unless the injury is sufficiently severe, the damage might not appear on diagnostic tests such as an X-ray or MRI. At Cross Border Law, we understand the challenges that injured individuals face after a car accident. By representing clients in both Vancouver and Seattle, our firm has gained insight into how personal injury cases proceed in both countries. If you are an American citizen injured in British Columbia, or a Canadian citizen injured in Washington State, schedule a free consultation today.

INJURIES TO THE SPINE IN A CAR ACCIDENT

Injuries can widely vary depending on the types of vehicles involved, the angle of the collision and the speed at which the vehicles collided. The sudden, jarring motion of two vehicles colliding will often result in spinal cord damage. Whether this damage is localized to the neck or other parts of the spine, an individual might suffer loss of sensation, loss of motion or chronic pain.

The effects of whiplash — severe pain, loss of movement, numbness, headaches, fatigue, etc. — can impact all facets of an individual’s life. From difficulty sleeping to the inability to concentrate at work, an injured person can feel long-term effects after a seemingly minor accident.

If you were injured in an accident and fear you might have whiplash, it is important to seek the care of a medical professional immediately. When you have questions about your legal options for monetary recovery, contact our firm by phone or through email.

Negligence and Strict Liability: True BURDENS OF PROOF

icbc insurance claims vancouver bc
3d image Compensation issues concept word cloud background

In every civil case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving the basic elements of negligence—duty, breach, causation and damages—and such proof is required by “a preponderance of the evidence”. This is defined as “more probable than not” or “more likely true than not true” or “on a 51% basis”. The reality is that a plaintiff must be prepared to show proof on a much more significant basis than 51%, as a juror is unlikely to award significant damages without substantial proof of injury and loss.

However, there are some cases that impose a different burden on a plaintiff—notably Products Liability cases in the US are governed by Strict Liability. In such cases, a plaintiff who was injured by a defective product must prove that the product was defective. Once the product is shown to have been manufactured defectively, the defendant manufacturer is liable, period. If, for example, a family is driving down the road and one of the tires on the vehicle suffers a sudden loss of air or “blowout”. The vehicle flips, passengers are ejected and all suffer serious personal injuries and losses. At trial, the injured parties must prove that the blown out tire was manufactured defectively, and once proven, their burden stops there. The manufacturer of the defective tire is then liable for any damages that are proven.

In BC, a plaintiff’s burden of proof for a defective products case is much more onerous. There a plaintiff must prove that the defendant manufacturer was negligent in the way it designed or manufactured the product. This is a significant burden and good reason why there are very few products cases that proceed to judgment in British Columbia.

Defining UMP or UIM (Underinsured Motorist Protection) Primer for ICBC-Insured Drivers and Passengers

On behalf of Cross Border Law posted in UMP on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

One hears a lot about Canada’s socialized-medicine program, but what about socialized-auto insurance? For better or for worse, Canadian auto insurance is handled Province by Province, and the “basic” or mandatory minimum insurance, at least for the Western Provinces, is entirely socialized. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (“ICBC”) provides the following insurance package for all licensed British Columbia drivers, all members of their household and all passengers in their vehicle:

  1. $200,000 in third party auto liability;
  2. $150,000 in PIP or no-fault medical and rehab expenses; and
  3. $1,000,000 in UIM or “UMP”.

$1,000,000 in UIM. You read that correctly. Including attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses. You read that correctly.

ICBC tells us that their insured drivers and passengers have been involved in crashes over the past ten years in every single US state and the District of Columbia. We’re talking only about residents of British Columbia. Not every one of them results in a UIM claim, but consider that most states’ mandatory minimums are a lot less than $200,000 per accident. So how does the typical injury victim receive proper compensation for his or her injury in the US? Of course, they don’t. Your policy-limits settlements attest to that.

This article is intended as a primer for attorneys in the US to ensure that they maximize the recovery for their BC clients injured down there.

Seek ICBC’s consent before you accept a policy limits settlement!

When an accident occurs outside of the Province, ยง148.2(6) of the Regulations promulgated pursuant to British Columbia’s Insurance (Vehicle) Act defines the rights and responsibilities of ICBC-insured drivers and passengers who wish to pursue a UIM claim, commonly referred to as “UMP”. Liability issues, including claims for contributory negligence, are to be determined by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred, while “quantum of damages” is to be determined by the laws of British Columbia. “Causation”, surprisingly, has been found to fall under the latter category, even though this is one of four elements which commonly comprise “liability” for a negligence claim (duty, breach, causation and the fact that damages occurred or loss was suffered).

Importantly, one must not accept a tort settlement and dismiss a tortfeasor unless and until the UMP claim has been perfected. The only two ways that the UMP claim can be perfected are by judgment in excess of policy limits or ICBC’s consent to a policy limits settlement. Until then, there cannot be a determination that the defendant was in fact “underinsured.” As Mr. Justice Finch stated in Beauchamp v. ICBC (2005) B.C.C.A. 507:

  1. “Arbitration is not available until it is shown that the person claiming is an “insured”, and is claiming in relation to an accident with an “underinsured” motorist”. The definition of “underinsured motorist”, set out above, contains three elements, A person falls within the definition if he or she: (1) is the owner or operator of a vehicle; (2) is legally liable for the injury or death of an Insured; and (3) is unable to pay the full amount of the Insured’s damages.
  2. Until those facts are either determined by judicial decision, or by admissions, there is no “underinsured motorist” and the arbitration provisions of the Regulations cannot be engaged.”

What is the limitation for bringing such claims?

The limitation for bringing straight negligence claims in British Columbia is two years from the date of the accident. However, since there can be no determination that a defendant driver is “underinsured” until one of the two determinations above has occurred, the limitation period cannot begin to run until that time. Thereafter, the limitation period is arguably six years for breach of a written (insurance) contract. There is no case law defeating an UMP claim in British Columbia on the basis of a limitation defense.

How does one commence such a claim?

The UMP legislation actually requires the Claimant or his/her counsel to negotiate a settlement of the UMP claim first. If the parties are unable to agree on an amount, the Claimant is at liberty to file a Notice to Arbitrate with the British Columbia International Commercial Arbitration Centre (“BCICAC”) and paying the proper fee. The full process is outlined here: http://bcicac.com/underinsured-motorist-protection/underinsured-motorist-protection-ump-process/

How does one recover attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses?

British Columbia is a “loser pays costs” jurisdiction, whereby the victor in any litigation can recover a portion of the legal fees and all reasonable litigation expenses from the loser. The amount of the attorneys’ fees contribution is calculated by reference to a schedule in the Court Rules. An UMP arbitrator may not award the full amount of a party’s fees, but is granted wide discretion to award a sum of money which may represent a significant portion of the total fees plus all reasonable expenses including expert reports and testifying fees, deposition costs, costs of producing records and the arbitrator’s fees.

British Columbia Man Pleads Guilty In Car Accident Case

A man who pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run car accident that killed a 25-year-old woman in Vancouver in March has begun his sentencing process. British Columbia residents may remember coverage of the car accident that has since been attributed to reckless driving. The proceedings were adjourned initially because nearly 50 of the woman’s friends and family made appearances to view the sentencing.

The accident report from March 9 states that around 11:30 p.m. the woman’s vehicle was T-boned by another car traveling at a high rate of speed. The driver of that vehicle, a 26-year-old man with a long history of criminal activity, fled the scene on foot along with his passenger. He was arrested several days later at a motel in Creston and charged with dangerous driving causing death and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.