What happens when you get in a car accident in another state?

Consider this hypothetical: you are on your annual road trip across the country to visit family. When you are a few hours outside of your home state, a car suddenly rear-ends you on the highway. You immediately realize something is wrong, and an ambulance takes you to the hospital. You are treated for a sore neck and back. Now you are home in Louisiana. What do you do?

Dealing with a car accident in your home state is enough of a problem – especially when you are injured. Dealing with this away from home adds a layer of stress and complications. Thankfully, you can ease some of that stress with the right personal injury lawyer by your side.

The good news is that you do not have to remain in the state where your accident happened to recover compensation for your injuries. However, it may be necessary for you to return there for trial. If you suffered an injury in the Lafayette area, your Lafayette personal injury lawyers would handle the bulk of your claim while you are miles away in your home town.

Insurance coverage in an out of state accident

The first major issue you will run into is the potential insurance coverage of the driver that hit you. While the amount of insurance every driver has can vary– states typically provide a minimum level of coverage that is required to register a vehicle. These policy limits are the maximum an insurance company will pay on a claim, so the higher the limit the better. 

These insurance limits typically follow the same pattern: they offer a maximum amount of coverage for a person’s injury in an accident, the total amount of injury damages they will pay in an accident, and the maximum amount of property damage they will pay for. The shorthand for a policy that offers $20,000 per injury, $40,000 per accident, and $20,000 for property damage is typically 20/40/20. Most states clearly mark their insurance policy limits online.

Negotiating a settlement

Regardless of where your accident occurs, the process of negotiating a settlement with the opposing insurance company can take place anywhere. At this point, discussions about resolving a claim do not require the filing of any legal documents. Your counsel can work directly with attorneys to negotiate on your behalf. The process can occur while you go about your daily life.

There can be some complications. If your vehicle was repaired or stored in a state where the accident happened, you might have to deal with those issues from home. Additionally, you could wind up with care providers in both your home state and the state where the accident occurred. Compiling these bills can be a problem, but many lawyers will take care of that for you. In many cases, you will need only to authorize them to request your medical records, and they will do the rest.

Once those documents are compiled, your legal counsel can go to the opposing insurance company to seek a monetary settlement for your injuries. Not every case will settle, however. When that happens, a trial is often the only option.

Filing a lawsuit

If your claim is not resolved through a settlement, your final option will be to file a lawsuit. Unlike the rest of the process, this must be done in the state where the accident happened. You don’t need to personally appear to file the suit or even at any of the pre-trial court dates.

However, in some states, the opposing side can require you to appear for a deposition. A deposition is a form of discovery common in car accidents. It involves attorneys sitting down with you in front of a court reporter and asking questions. While some states will allow you to answer over the phone, others will not.  An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you on this.

Finally, you can count on appearing for the trial. You will be an important witness, and most states require a plaintiff to appear no matter what.

Get help with your Louisiana injury claim

If you suffered an injury while traveling in Louisiana, you must find local legal counsel you can trust. Bart Bernard is a skilled injury attorney who has a proven track record of fighting and winning on behalf of victims in Lafayette, Louisiana. Call today to schedule a free consultation with a Lafayette car accident lawyer