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Getting Into an Accident in Canada

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on March 18, 2019

With Canada so close by, living in the State of Washington means that you can travel internationally just by going on a road trip. Our northern neighbor offers a lot of great destinations for people looking to spend a day or two sightseeing or exploring nature, and it’s just a short drive away. Many Washington residents keep their passport as handy as their driver’s license so they can venture across the border whenever the mood strikes them. But, before you decide to spend a day abroad, take a minute to make sure you are armed with adequate insurance and are aware of the differences between our laws and Canada’s.

No one sets out on the road thinking they’ll be in an accident, and if you’re planning a trip to Canada, you’re probably not factoring a collision into your visit. Unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself involved in an automobile accident while in Canada, you’ll be grateful to have a bit of knowledge and understanding ahead of time, about what to do.

First and foremost, your priority should always be the health of the people involved, not least of all yourself. If you or your traveling companions are injured, don’t wait until you’re back in the States to seek medical attention. You may feel hesitant about getting care while in another country, but your health is too important to take any chances. Even if you think you got out of the accident unscathed, it’s better to make sure, since many serious injuries, such as internal bleeding, can go unnoticed at first but can quickly become life-threatening if left untreated.

Canadians do not operate their healthcare system in the same manner as we do in the United States. The Canada Health Act ensures Canadians receive the majority of their medical care free of charge, but that does not apply to visitors from other countries. If injured, you would need to use your existing health insurance or pay out of pocket for the care you receive in Canada. Fortunately, unlike healthcare, Canada’s civil justice system is fairly similar to the one in the United States, making their process for dealing with personal injury claims similar as well. If the other driver is found to be at-fault, you may be able to file a claim seeking compensation for the costs you incur getting treated for injuries caused by the accident.

Hopefully no one is injured, and you can focus on other aspects of the accident. Both for your own records and for insurance purposes, it is wise to get photographs of both the cars and the scene. Take as many pictures as you can, but make sure they include the damaged portions of all the vehicles involved, even if you believe the other driver is at fault. Try to capture the area around the accident as well, including traffic signals, signage, terrain, and weather conditions, as this will make it easier to later reconstruct the scenario that led to the collision.

Once you’ve documented the scene, you will need to gather the information about the other drivers before they begin to disperse. Exchange insurance information with them right away, before moving on to reporting the accident to your own insurance company. When you do contact your carrier, make sure to notify them about where the accident took place. Being involved in an accident outside of the U.S. may affect the way your claim is handled, so you want your insurance company to be aware of that aspect of the situation as soon as possible. They may direct you to gather more or different information than they normally would. You don’t want to find out after the fact that the insurance company needs something you could have collected at the time of the accident.

Apart from the differences we’ve covered so far, an accident in Canada isn’t that different from an accident in the U.S. No matter where you are when one strikes, try to remain calm. It’s natural to be upset, or to be in shock, so take a moment if you need to. Having a clear head will help you in navigating the next steps and make it easier to speak to law enforcement and insurance providers. Be mindful of what you say to these parties and try to be clear and concise to avoid having your words misconstrued. As for providing your information to the other driver, don’t offer more than you need to. Your name and insurance information are all that’s really required, and it should be enough for them to report the incident to their carrier. Don’t give out your number unless you want to open yourself up to the possibility of angry and unsolicited phone calls from the other driver.

Once you’ve taken care of yourself and your loved ones and made it home safely, you may need to look into contacting an attorney. If you were injured or your property was damaged, you need a lawyer that has the experience and expertise necessary to help you recover the compensation you deserve. For over two decades, the lawyers at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., have been working with people like you to see justice done. Let us evaluate the merits of your case by calling (425) 228-3860 or (253) 445-3860 to schedule a free consultation.

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