Steps to Take After an Out-of-State Car Accident

May 22, 2020

You and your girlfriends decide to take a road trip.  You pull into a rest stop to get gas, coffee, doughnuts and chips for the road.  Before you pull out of the rest stop, you glance into the rearview mirror to make sure no cars are coming and it’s safe for you to go.

As soon as you join the left lane, a car comes up fast from behind and proceeds to tailgate you.  You put on your right hand blinker and begin to move over into the right lane to let the tailgater pass. At the same time, the tailgater decides to illegally pass your car on the right. His car clips yours from behind and your car slams into the concrete median.

Dazed and confused, the next thing you know, the tailgater is knocking on your window asking if you’re alright.

What should you do?

A lot of folks wonder what they should do if they have a car accident while they’re out of state.  The answer is simple.  Do the same things you would do after any car accident.

Safety First

Check for injuries.  Before you try to get out of the car, take a moment to see if you or the other occupants of the car are injured.  You don’t want to aggravate any serious injuries by trying to move too quickly. Turn your hazard lights on to warn other drivers.  You don’t want to take anyone by surprise.

If your car is in the middle of the road and it can still be driven, move the vehicle out of the way of oncoming traffic.  If you cannot move your car or yourself, stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on.

Call 911

Report the accident to the police even if the damage to your car and the other car looks minor.  What looks like minor damage could end up costing thousands of dollars to fix. You want to have the police investigate because you’ll want to get a copy of the accident report later.

The accident report will contain a lot of helpful information, including the police officer’s observations of the scene of the accident and whether they found any party to be at fault.  It will also contain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the tailgater and any witnesses to the accident.  In addition, it will contain driver’s license, insurance, and registration information, license plate numbers, and descriptions of all vehicles involved in the accident. Everyone, from your personal injury attorney to your car insurance company will request to get a copy of the report.

Most officers who report to the scene of an accident will give you a receipt listing an incident number and the address at which you can get a copy of the accident report.  Be sure to keep that in a safe place.  Also, be sure to note the jurisdiction of the law enforcement officers who report to the scene (i.e. note which local police department they’re from or if they’re state troopers or highway patrol) in case you lose the receipt.  That way, you’ll know where to request a copy of the accident report.

When the police arrive, provide them with the facts of the incident and nothing else.  Don’t cast blame or express guilt even if you think the accident was your fault.

Document the Scene

Put that cell phone camera to good use. Take pictures to document the scene of the accident.  Take pictures of the damage to both vehicles, the tailgater’s license plate, the tailgater himself, any skid marks, the location of the cars – anything to preserve the scene of the accident or that would help a judge, a jury, or an insurance company to determine fault.

Exchange Information With The Tailgater

Take pictures of the tailgater’s driver’s license, registration, insurance card, etc.. Make sure that his address is current on his driver’s license and get his telephone number. If you don’t have a cell phone to take pictures, get a pen and paper and write down his name, address, drivers license number, license plate number, the name of his insurer, its telephone number, and his policy number.  Also, note down the make, model, and year of his car. That way, you and your attorney will have this information to track the tailgater down and make a claim later. There’s always a chance that some of this information won’t make it into the accident report.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

Call your insurance company to report the accident as soon as possible.  You don’t want to be in violation of any policy provisions for coverage. Plus, your policy may provide for towing service, car rental, and other things you’ll need right away.

Get Examined By a Doctor

The shock of being in a car accident might temporarily mask the pain of injuries you incurred in the accident.  Although you might feel fine now, you might have suffered an injury that will cause you to feel pain days after the incident, so be sure to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.

Call a Local Attorney

The law of the state in which the accident occurred will apply to your car accident case.  Every state has its own statute of limitations (deadline by which to file a lawsuit) and its own laws regarding insurance coverage, damages, etc.  Your lawyer back home won’t be able to help you seek compensation for injuries you received in an out of state accident. That’s why you should hire an experienced local personal injury attorney in the state where the accident occurred.  He or she will be familiar with the laws of his state and can help you with your claim.

Let an Allentown Car Accident Lawyer Help You Today

If you’re an out-of-towner who has been injured in a car accident in or near Allentown, you need an experienced Allentown car accident lawyer to help you secure the maximum possible compensation for your claim.