Car accidents are tough enough when you’re in a crash in Miami. Things can get even more complicated when you’re in an accident away from home.
What should you do if you get into a car accident in another state? Can you still recover compensation for your injuries if someone else was to blame? If so, how?
These are important questions. Here’s what you need to know.
Is the State Where You Got Into an Accident a Fault or No-Fault State?
The laws of the state in which you’re involved in an accident will dictate how your injury claim unfolds. One law that can vary from state to state – fault vs. no-fault insurance rules.
Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state. This means that your insurance company will cover the costs of your accident, regardless of who’s at fault. You have to seek compensation from your insurance provider first, even if someone else caused your accident. Once you’ve exhausted your insurance benefits, you can seek compensation from an at-fault party for any damages that exceed what your provider would pay.
Only 12 states have no-fault insurance laws on the books. The rest are “fault” states. Let’s say you get into a car accident in Austin, Texas. Under Texas’s fault insurance rules, you’d seek compensation from whoever was responsible for causing your accident and injuries.
What If I’m Partly To Blame For My Out of State Car Accident?
States also handle the allocation of fault – and the ability to recover compensation – differently. States typically adopt one of three ways to deal with negligence: contributory negligence, comparative negligence, and modified comparative negligence.
Contributory negligence means that you’re barred from recovering compensation if you contribute to the accident that caused you to get hurt. Four states – including Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia – and Washington, D.C. have pure contributory fault rules on the books. If you’re even 5 percent responsible for your accident, you won’t be able to seek compensation.
Comparative fault means that you’re not automatically barred from seeking compensation just because you contributed to your accident. However, your damages will be reduced to reflect your degree of fault. If you’re 20 percent at fault, your damages will be reduced by 20 percent. Florida is a pure comparative negligence state.
Modified comparative fault means that you’re not automatically prohibited from seeking compensation after an accident. However, sharing more than a certain degree of fault (set by state law) will bar recovery. In Texas, for example, the bar to recovery is 51 percent. You can recover money for your injuries as long as you share 50 percent of less of the blame for an accident. Once you’re allocated 51 percent or more of the blame, you’ll lose the right to seek damages.
What Should I Do After an Out of State Accident?
The things you do after any accident are important. However, certain precautions after an out-of-state accident can be even more critical to your health and ability to recover compensation.
See a Doctor: Do not wait until you get back to Miami to see a doctor after a crash. Internal injuries are incredibly common and easy to overlook if you don’t get help. Delaying medical care could jeopardize your health and any injury claims you decide to file in the future.
Report the Accident: Call the police and report the accident as soon as you can. You’ll want the accident on record and access to a police report documenting important details about the collision. In fact, most states actually require you to report an accident if there’s significant property damage or if anyone is injured or killed.
Refuse Early Settlement Offers: Insurance company regulations vary from state to state. You’ll want to make sure that you understand all of your options and rights before you begin to negotiate a settlement.
Discuss Your Case With a Lawyer: The best thing you can do after a car accident is to seek out some legal advice from an experienced attorney. Your lawyer can help explain how your case might unfold and determine the best way to move forward.