Car Accidents Across State Lines – Here’s What to Do

August 10, 2023 | By Impact Legal Car Accident Attorneys
Car Accidents Across State Lines – Here’s What to Do

Today we travel more than ever before. From work to road trips, it seems like many of us are always on the road. With all of the increased travel, out-of-state car accidents have also increased, leaving many people wondering what to do after an accident in a different state. In this article, we'll discuss the many concerns that pop up after you have an accident in a different state from which you reside. 

If you've been in an accident in Arizona or New Mexico call our car accident lawyers for a free consultation to understand the best next steps for you. You can call or text us at (602) 345-1818. You may, alternatively, fill out this easy and secure online form

Steps to Take Following an Out-of-State Accident

After a car accident away from your home state, you should follow these steps to protect yourself and your potential car accident claim. 

  1. Stay on the scene - Leaving the scene can get you into serious legal trouble
  2. Check the wellbeing of everyone involved - Assess the safety and health of yourself and others involved; call for medical assistance immediately, if needed
  3. Call the local authorities - Ensure you call the authorities to draft an official report; this may be a crucial piece of evidence going forward
  4. Exchange the necessary info - Get information from the other driver(s), including their name, address, telephone number, driver's license number, and insurance information.
  5. Check for potential eyewitnesses - Obtain information from potential witnesses of the accident
  6. Collect photo/video evidence - Take pictures of the accident; remember to do so safely
  7. Remember!!! Do not post pictures of the accident on social media
  8. Watch what you say - Never take blame or admit fault of any kind; this can be used against you later
  9. Get medical attention - See a doctor; even if you “feel fine” following the accident, remember that potential injuries may not be evident until days after the accident has happened
  10. Call a car accident lawyer - Out-of-state accidents can be confusing. A car accident lawyer can help you understand the specifics of your case and help you determine your best next steps.

Read our complete guide to the aftermath of a car accident.

What's the State Law?

Every case is different, but in the general sense, the laws of the state in which your car accident occurs will apply. You'll want to pay attention to how car accident damages are covered (no-fault vs fault states), the state's statute of limitations, minimum coverage laws, etc. Note that in certain circumstances other laws may apply, such as DWI laws, aggressive driving, etc. 

Below we'll discuss the various legal implications that may apply depending on where your car accident happens. 

No-Fault States Vs At-Fault States

Arizona and New Mexico are both at-fault states, also known as “tort states.” This means that the at-fault driver is responsible for paying the damages that result in an accident. In no-fault states, drivers who are in accidents rely on their own insurance policies to pay for the damages sustained. Consider that you are in an accident in Florida, which is a no-fault state. In this case, your policy would likely provide the required coverage required in Florida to ensure you are protected. 

If you have specific questions about how this works, be sure to speak with a car accident lawyer. 

Your Policy Likely Applies Across State Lines

Don't panic – your insurance policy most likely protects you no matter where you are in the country. Most policies will cover all 50 states, including Puerto Rico. Sometimes Canadian provinces are also included. Be careful when driving south of the border; Mexico may not be a covered territory within your policy.  

As far as coverage, your policy will typically adjust coverage limits to whichever state you are in when you have the accident. For example, say you live in New Mexico. Your minimum liability coverage is 25/50/10. If you're in an accident in Arizona, your policy's minimum liability coverage will likely increase to the required 25/50/15, ensuring that you are covered when it comes to property damage. It may seem like you're the only one that this kind of thing could happen to, but it actually happens quite often. This is why insurance companies try to make the process as easy as possible for policyholders.  

Where Can You Sue?

You'll want to pay attention to where you can file a lawsuit after an accident should you need to go this route to recover damages. Generally, you will be able to file a suit in the state the accident happened or the state where the defendant lives. 

Typically, you won't be permitted to file a lawsuit in the state where you reside, unless the defendant also resides in that state or has sufficient “minimum contacts” within the state (this may include ownership of property in the state or other sufficient in-state activities). 

Hire an Attorney for an Out-of-State Car Accident

Getting into an accident out of state can be scary. With so many questions coming up in a foreign territory, the situation can seem overwhelming. If you've been in an out-of-state accident in Arizona or New Mexico, call our car accident lawyers to learn more about your potential legal options. You can set up a free initial case evaluation by calling or texting our car accident lawyers at (602) 345-1818 or filling out our convenient online form. We know that out-of-state car accidents can be tedious, especially if you aren't in the area, so we also provide virtual case evaluations via a remote meeting.