April 2022 - Dealing With Out-of-State Accidents When Traveling
Based on pre-bookings, travel industry reports project leisure travel to surpass pre-pandemic levels this year. While some travelers may be willing to splurge on once-in-a-lifetime trips, it seems most would be satisfied staying closer to home.
If you’re among the 68% of Americans who, in response to a Trip Advisor survey, indicated they were likely to travel domestically this year, you may be concerned what to do in the event of an out-of-state accident.
Your first reactions to any accident, whether at home or out-of-state, should be to:
- notify police
- get medical attention if necessary
- photograph the scene
- collect witness contact information
- notify your insurance carrier
The big difference with out-of-state accidents comes when an accident results in injury and a personal injury lawsuit is warranted. Where do you file and what can you expect?
Generally personal injury lawsuits can be filed either in the state where the accident occurred or in the state where the defendant lives. There are exceptions:
- Accidents involving multiple defendants—lawsuits can be filed in any state where one of the defendants live
- Accidents involving commercial vehicles—lawsuits can be filed in the state where the business either is incorporated, has its principal place of business, or has sufficient “minimum contracts.”
Regardless of where you file, the presumption is the laws of the state where the accident occurred prevail. That’s important to know because different states regulate the recovery of damages differently:
- States with a “pure contributory negligence statute” prohibit plaintiffs from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at fault.
- States with a “pure comparative fault statute” reduce the amount in damages that can be awarded by the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff.
Another important difference to note is that statutes of limitations for filing accident claims can vary by state. Once a statute of limitations expires, you are restricted from filing.
No one wants to think of an accident spoiling their vacation, but it is better to be prepared.
Stay informed and stay safe!