Mexico Border Crossing Accidents
Because of the proximity to Mexico, many residents of San Diego consider a weekend stay at a resort along Rosarito Beach or a day trip to Tijuana. Traveling south of the border is easy if you take the blue line to San Ysidro Station or parking nearby and simply walk through customs. However, drivers should be aware of how their insurance policy operates in another country and what they should do if they are in an accident.
Insurance in Mexico
Most U.S. based insurance policies due not apply in Mexico, meaning that you will have to pay out of pocket for any injuries or property damage sustained if you drive over the border. Instead, you will have to purchase a policy through a Mexican insurance company, but this option is available with most major insurance companies. These policies can also be modified to only apply during the specific days you are traveling and may be useful for vacations.
Alternatively, some policies offer an extension that will cover damage to your vehicle or cases of theft, but this may only apply for certain mileage and will not fulfill the Mexican insurance requirements if you are in an accident. If you do not have Mexican car insurance in an accident, you could face legal fines.
However, if you are only traveling for less than a day, consider taking the San Diego trolly and going by foot. You can also rent a car in Mexico and add on Mexican car insurance during the length of your stay.
What If I Am in an Accident in Mexico?
The first thing you should do is contact the local police, especially if you have sustained an injury. You may also contact your Mexican auto insurance company, who will contact emergency services and have them sent to the scene of the accident. They will also have a claim adjustor meet you there to provide assistance with the police.
It is important to understand that the process for handling a car accident in Mexico differs from the process in the United States. Generally, settlements for property damage are handled right after the accident, but it also very common for both parties, no matter who caused the accident, to be taken into custody before they determine fault. This means you can be detained at a Mexican police station while the authorities review your case, assuming you do not have a serious injury and need medical attention. You will be also be required to show proof of your insurance. Depending on your policy, your Mexico auto insurance may contact a local lawyer to provide assistance with your case.
If the police do not find you at fault for any traffic violations or crimes, then you are free to go. You will want to get a copy of their report and a copy of the other driver’s insurance policy in order to file a claim. You will also want to be assessed by a medical professional to rule out any injuries. Waiting till you return to the United States might be tempting, but you do not want to risk exasperating your injuries or waiting until they worsen.
When filing a claim for property damage to your vehicle, you will want to contact your Mexican auto insurance company. They will either direct you to a local auto shop to repair your vehicle or, if the vehicle is totaled, provide fair market value for the vehicle, generally based on Kelley Blue Book or NADA guidelines.
For bodily injuries, the matter is more complicated. You may wish to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, but if your accident occurred in Tijuana or Rosarito, your claim will also be subject to Baja California’s liability laws, which may vary in terms of how much compensation you can receive. Your best option is to discuss your case with a San Diego car accident attorney after you have returned to the United States.
The legal team at jD LAW, P.C. can provide bilingual services to clients in auto accidents in San Diego County and legal advice regarding accidents in Baja. International claims are significantly more complicated and should be discussed on a case by case basis. Call us at (760) 630-2000 to learn what legal options are available to you after a cross border car accident.
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