What to Do If You Get In a Car Accident Out of State

Getting into a car accident can be traumatic and stressful, especially when it happens out of state. You may not know which state laws apply or whether your insurance will cover the damage and injuries. 

But that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. If you get into a car accident in another state, here’s what you should do:

1. Call 911

The first thing you should do after an accident is call the police. They can get emergency responders on the way and an officer to write up an official police report, which will come in handy later in court.

2. Get medical attention

Regardless of what state you’re from, your insurance policy should cover emergency services anywhere in the United States. So don’t hesitate to get the medical attention you need.

The sooner, the better, since many injuries get worse with time. If you wait too long, your insurance company or the defendant in a personal injury case may claim the injury wasn’t that bad since you didn’t seek immediate medical attention. 

3. Exchange contact information with the other driver

At the accident scene, try to exchange contact information with the other driver(s). Get their name, phone number, address, license plate number, and insurance information. Be courteous, but don’t admit any fault. If you do, it could come back to hurt you in court.

4. Collect evidence

Collect as much evidence from the accident as you can. Take photos of the involved cars, any injuries, and the overall accident scene. Write down the time and location of the accident and record how it happened. What directions were the vehicles going, and how did they collide?

If possible, see if there were any eyewitnesses who can describe what they saw happen to you. Ask for their name, phone number, and testimony. 

5. Notify your insurance company

Let your insurance company know about the accident as soon as possible. If you wait too long, your injury may no longer be eligible for coverage.

Your insurance company can help you start the claims process. But be careful not to accept a payout too quickly.

Insurance companies often make a lowball offer first because they want to pay you as little as possible (it’s part of the business). Wait to accept any money until you know what your case is worth by consulting a lawyer, which brings us to our next point …

6. Consult a lawyer

Because out-of-state car accidents can be complex, it’s best to consult a reputable auto accident attorney. They can help you stay on top of unfamiliar laws. For example, some states have no-fault laws, meaning drivers must get their own insurance to cover damages regardless of who is at fault.

The statute of limitations (which determines how long you have to pursue legal action) is also different in each state. It could be anywhere from one to five years.

In most cases, you must follow the laws of the state in which the accident occurred, and in order to perform legal action, your lawyer must be licensed in that state. 

So find a lawyer who can fight your case and negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf. Most offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. That means they only charge a percentage of your settlement. 

If you don’t win, you don’t owe anything. So you really have nothing to lose. 

Last Updated on October 16, 2023

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