Busy interstate highways connect the states of Oregon and Washington. Over 60,000 vehicles a day commute from Vancouver to Portland over an aging Interstate Bridge. With this many vehicles, accidents are fairly commonplace. When they happen, many drivers are sometimes unsure of exactly where the impact occurred. If an injury claim is contemplated, this becomes important as each state has different deadlines for bringing claims. If deadlines are missed, valuable rights can be lost. Many a driver has had an insurance company advise them they waited too long to bring a claim as the state with the shorter time period is where the collision occurred. However, there are a few lawyers who know of an old law that allows drivers to pick either state if an accident occurs on a bridge over a body of water separating the two states. The Admission Act of 1859 gave Oregon and Washington concurrent jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, over events that occur on the Columbia and Snake Rivers regardless of the exact location of any state boundary. Case law has held the rule applies to bridges over the rivers too. The lesson here is Washington’s three year rule may save you if the accident was on the Interstate Bridge, irrespective of the state boundary line.
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