Although being in a car accident in another state is distressing, the steps you take afterward are similar to the ones you take if you were in your own state: get medical attention, contact the necessary parties, and work with insurance companies.
However, if someone else’s negligence caused your injuries, you will need to file a case in the state where the crash occurred.
Initial Steps After the Crash
As with any car accident, the first priority is getting proper emergency attention if necessary. The next steps for an out-of-state crash are the same as you would take at home:
- Make sure everyone is safe from further harm.
- Contact police to report the accident.
- Seek medical attention.
- Gather contact information for all parties involved.
- Take photos or videos of the scene.
- Get in touch with insurance companies.
One of the main concerns for drivers after a crash in another state is how insurance coverage works. After all, each state has different minimum insurance requirements. As highlighted by the Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire, in Georgia, the minimum coverage each driver must have is 25/50/25:
- $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability
- $50,000 per incident in bodily injury liability
- $25,000 per incident in property damage liability
By contrast, other states may have different coverage requirements. For example, if you were in an accident in a state with higher minimum coverage requirements, your policy will typically provide coverage to meet those requirements. Essentially, your minimum coverage is relative to the state where the crash occurred.
Always Report an Accident
You must tell both police and your insurance company if you were in a crash in another state because officially acknowledging an accident is crucial for:
- Preserving your ability to pursue damages later
- Painting you as reliable and trustworthy
- Providing evidence of the crash and any injuries
- Allowing you to establish your version of events
- Protecting you from other legal repercussions
Insurance companies – even the one covering you – tend to find loopholes to avoid paying out. Failing to report an accident gives them excuses not only to avoid paying for your losses and injuries but also to potentially penalize you for neglecting to let them know.
Furthermore, some states have laws that require you to report a crash to the police. For example, in Georgia, every driver has a duty to report to the cops any accident resulting in more than $500 in damages or causing injury or death to anyone involved (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-273). Each state’s criteria may differ, so if there is any damage or injury, report the crash to be safe.
Pursuing Personal Injury Out of State
One major way getting into an accident in another state differs from one at home is if you need to pursue compensation. You will need to follow the rules of the state in which the accident occurred, including their laws on assigning fault and filing personal injury lawsuits. The types of fault in states are usually variations of the following:
- No-fault: You receive payments for your losses from your own insurance, regardless of who was at fault.
- Contributory negligence: Your losses are paid by the more at-fault party but reduced by your amount of fault.
Georgia assigns liability to the driver who is deemed 50 percent or more at fault. In other words, if they caused the accident with their negligent actions, such as speeding or turning illegally, they are then responsible for paying damages, usually through their insurance policy. By contrast, a no-fault state doesn’t assign responsibility, and your expenses are paid through your own insurance. Your insurance may then go after the other driver for reimbursement.
While no-fault insurance laws can help victims pay expenses without having to negotiate with a second insurance company, they also limit the pursuit of additional damages. This instance is especially true of non-economic damages like pain and suffering or loss of consortium. Additionally, in some states, your injuries must qualify as “serious” for you to be able to pursue additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Don’t Forget the Statute of Limitations
The time you have to file for personal injury will also vary depending on the state. Georgia typically allows two years after an accident to file, but other states might have longer or shorter deadlines (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33).
Certain factors may also affect when you can file. You might want to consider checking with one of our attorneys about when you need to file after your crash.
Talk to Kaine Law About Your Accident for Free
Uncertainty about what to do after a car accident in another state is natural. Get the answers you need with a free consultation at Kaine Law.
Our car accident lawyers can examine your case and explain your options. Call now at (404) 214-2001.