I Was Involved in a Car Accident Out of State… Now What?
Taking a road trip out of state could result in a complicated insurance process if you get into an accident across state lines. While your auto insurance provider should still cover your damages, the laws in the state where your crash occurred will preside over your case. These laws can be vastly different from what you are used to, depending on where you live and where the accident occurred. You might need a Kansas city car accident lawyer to help you with your out-of-state crash claim.
Stay Calm and Call 911
First, protect yourself by calling the police while still at the scene of the auto accident. Different states have different thresholds for the amount of property damage that requires reporting a wreck to 911, but all states require reporting if the collision caused injuries or deaths. Calling the police could help you document your crash. A police officer can write down important facts such as what county the crash occurred in, the names of the drivers involved and the contact information of any eyewitnesses. You can use this information later to help you build an insurance claim.
Obtain Medical Attention and Document Your Crash
As you should after an auto accident in your home state, go to a hospital in the city where you are traveling for immediate care for any injuries you have from the car crash. Document your injury using medical records and any official paperwork from a physician. Start gathering other evidence related to your car crash as well, such as photographs of your property damage and a copy of the police report.
Learn Which Laws Apply to Your Out-of-State Accident
Geography matters when it comes to resolving a car accident claim. In general, the laws of the state where the accident occurred will have jurisdiction over your claim. This is important to realize since the laws can vary significantly from state to state. If you live in Missouri but get into an accident in Kansas, for example, you might file your claim with a different party’s insurance company. Missouri is a fault state while Kansas is a no-fault state.
Fault vs. no-fault car insurance systems. In a fault state, you will seek benefits from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In a no-fault state, you will call your own insurer for benefits, regardless of fault.
Comparative fault vs. contributory negligence laws. Comparative fault allows a plaintiff to recover partial compensation even if he or she contributed to the accident. Contributory negligence laws bar plaintiffs from recovery for any amount of negligence.
Different statutes of limitations on filing claims. The amount of time you will have to file a personal injury lawsuit for an auto accident will depend on the state. Each state has unique statutes of limitations on car accident claims.
If you wish to file a personal injury lawsuit for an out-of-state car accident, you will file either where the crash occurred or in the defendant’s home state. If the defendant is a business, you can file where the business is incorporated. If multiple defendants caused your accident, you can file a claim in any state where at least one of them resides or where the accident occurred.
Consult With an Accident Attorney
It is important to call an attorney if you have serious injuries from an out-of-state crash. A car accident across state lines can involve laws you have never dealt with before. It may be more difficult to obtain fair compensation from an insurance company during an out-of-state accident claim. The good news is that your auto insurance carrier will cover you even if you drive out of state. You can seek recovery through your own insurer no matter where your accident happened in the US. You may have to purchase special insurance, however, for continuous coverage if you plan on driving across the border into a different country.