Since most people do the majority of their commuting within a few dozen miles of their home, out-of-state car accidents are relatively rare. When they do occur, though, they are often even more stressful than a crash near home. Victims feel stranded in a strange area, do not have their local body shop or towing service just down the road, and often are not sure where to turn first.
While it is a good idea to review the auto insurance laws and claims process before you drive in another state, most people do not take this step. But this does not mean you have nowhere to turn if you are involved in an accident while visiting Texas or with a driver who lives out of state.
Below, we answer a few of our most frequently asked questions about out-of-state car accidents.
What are the first things I need to do after an out-of-state car crash?
No matter where your car accident occurs, your health must come first. Call 911 to report your accident, and request paramedics to check for injuries.
If you can, it is a good time to collect some evidence. We lose evidence at the scene of the crash after police take the report and tow the cars away. To capture this evidence, use your phone or a camera to take pictures of the scene, all vehicles involved, and any damage. Try to look for any skid marks or other evidence of the crash and document it with your camera.
Get the names and contact information of everyone involved, as well as any eyewitnesses. This can be especially important later, because many witnesses do not stick around to talk to police.
Notify your insurance company, and have them contact a towing service. Alternatively, the police can recommend a towing service that can keep your car safe until you locate a local body shop.
If your crash happened in Houston, or if you live in the Houston area, give us a call. We can help you figure out how to navigate the insurance claims process and what to do to collect compensation for your medical bills and property damage.
Can I file an auto insurance claim in a different state?
Yes. Most auto insurance policies issued in the United States cover all 50 states, Canada, and all U.S. territories. This means you should be able to file a claim from the state where your accident occurs. Some insurance companies even offer apps to file a claim, and most have toll-free numbers to reach them from any hotel phone or location with cell phone reception.
If the other driver caused the crash, your insurance company may be willing to pay out and then pursue the at-fault driver’s insurer for compensation later. In other cases, you may need to contact the other driver’s insurer to report the accident and get your claim started. Remember, though, to avoid giving a recorded statement and to discuss any settlement offers with a car accident attorney before accepting.
What if I need my car repaired in another state?
We recommend that accident victims avoid getting their car repaired until we can have an expert examine it, but we understand this is not always possible. Your insurance company, its local adjuster, a local friend, or someone at your hotel should be able to recommend a mechanic or body shop who can do the work.
Your insurance may provide money for a rental car, or you can include this cost in your claim against the at-fault driver later. Just make sure you keep all receipts for your accident-related expenses.
How can I recover compensation for a serious accident in another state?
The process to recover compensation for serious car accident injuries in another state depends on where your accident occurs. You will need to follow that state’s laws for pursuing compensation. Different states have different laws about how car accident claims proceed. A few states even have special rules that limit who can file a claim to only those who can prove their injuries are serious, although most out-of-state travelers may be exempt from this particular rule.
Each state also has its own statute of limitations, detailing how long you have to settle a claim or file a lawsuit. For accidents in Texas, we can help you prove liability, file a claim, and negotiate a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
We don’t take out-of-state claims. If your accident occurred in Houston and you have questions about how Texas law works, we can help. Call the Law Offices of Hilda L. Sibrian, P.C. today at 713-863-1515 or contact us through our online chat. We are bilingual, and available 24/7.