Traveling during the summer or holidays you may be taking a road trip to or renting a car in another state. One of the fastest ways to put a dent in your vacation plans is to be involved in an out-of-state car accident. Experiencing a crash in an area that you are unfamiliar with is stressful enough, not knowing what to do after an accident can be even scarier. So it is important to be aware of driving risks before you take your trip and who to call should you have the misfortune to be in an accident.
Driving at any time of year is more dangerous than ever before, as a 2017 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows for the second straight year, there will be the largest increase in motor vehicle fatalities in the past 50 years in the United States. CNN reports two of the most speculated reasons for the increase are distracted driving and warmer weather. With school out for teenagers, expect more teen drivers on the road during summer, and more drivers on the road using smartphones or other technology while driving.
Higher congestion because of travelers also contributes to dangerous driving conditions in summer, as well as drivers who are under the influence and take to the road after holidays or parties. Before you head out on the road, here’s what to consider regarding the possibility of an out-of-state accident.
Know Your Insurance Policy and the Rules of the Areas You’re Traveling In
Every state has different stipulations regarding compensation for people involved in auto accidents. Some states are “no-fault” states, which means the resident of the no-fault state is entitled to injury compensations from their own insurance provider — not the other person involved in the accident. If you don’t live in a state with this policy, in an “at-fault” state, obtaining benefits from the at-fault driver will need to be pursued. At-fault states may be divided into categories including:
- Pure comparative fault, which means the amount of damages awarded relates to the percentage of fault of each party.
- Contributory negligence, which means if an injured party is at fault in any way, they will not be able to collect any damages from the other party.
- Modified comparative fault, which means if one party is more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, they will not be able to collect any damages from the other party at fault.
Most car insurance providers in the United States provide coverage in every state, which may even extend throughout Canada. Some providers, like Esurance, will compare coverage limits with the minimum requirements in the state you have an accident, then cover you for the higher limit.
It’s still important to be aware of any minimum requirements you may have to meet when driving in another state. Of course, if you are heading to a foreign country and plan on driving, you should thoroughly check all the coverage you’ll need before your trip.
Prepare Before Your Trip
Besides communicating with your insurance provider before you leave, you can also consult with your car accident lawyer to walk you through what to be aware of. It’s also always a good idea to have a camera, notepad and contact information of your insurance provider and lawyer with you whenever you’re driving out of state. This way, you can document any accidents and quickly get in touch with who you need to.
Also, get your car checked out by an expert before taking long road trips. Popular Mechanics magazine reports tires are most likely to blow out between the months of mid-May through early October. Heavy vehicles, hot weather and fast driving all combine to increase the likelihood of a blowout. Make sure your tires are properly inflated before embarking on a road trip.
After a Car Accident
When you have a car crash in another state, stay calm, take a deep breath, and proceed as if you were in an accident in your home state. Call the police, document the scene, get the other driver’s contact information and obtain medical services if needed.
Be cautious of your language, and never admit fault. Contacting a reputable car accident attorney in the state the accident occurred in is your best course of action. An attorney that is licensed in the state of the accident will be better equipped to prepare a case because they’ll know the accident laws of their state. They can also recommend if you should hire an attorney in your home state.
It’s true that getting into an accident away from your home state will be a little more complicated than if it happens in your state. Being prepared and getting professional legal advice when an accident happens ensures you have the best protection possible.