Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be difficult and stressful. The challenges increase when the accident occurs out of state, as you must navigate unfamiliar laws and procedures.
Generally speaking, the jurisdiction, or the legal authority to hear and make decisions in a case, typically lies in the state where the accident occurred. It is not always quite that simple though and it is important to understand your options if you have been in an out-of-state crash. In this article we discuss out-of-state car accident jurisdiction in depth and answer the most commonly asked questions.
What Should I Do if I Get Injured in a Car Accident Out of State?
If you get hurt in an out-of-state car accident, you must take several initial steps to protect yourself. First and foremost, ask for medical attention as soon as possible, even if your injuries appear minor. Second, inform the local law enforcement agency about the accident and request a copy of the accident report. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene and get the contact information of any witnesses.
However, as you explore the aftermath of an out-of-state accident, there will be complications. Dealing with insurance companies and understanding the out-of-state car accident jurisdiction, in particular, can present unique challenges.
Regarding insurance, the process can vary greatly depending on the specifics of your policy and the state where the accident happened. You must contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. However, be careful when talking with insurance representatives. Stick to the facts of the accident and avoid making assumptions about who was at fault or the extent of your injuries. Insurance companies may attempt to minimize or dismiss your claim based on the information you provide.
Another essential consideration in out-of-state car accident cases is jurisdiction, or the authority of a court to hear and decide a case. In most cases, the state where the accident occurred has jurisdiction. This means that if you live in Illinois or Michigan and are in a car accident in Indiana, Indiana laws will likely bind your case, and any legal proceedings will take place in Indiana, even if you have out-of-state insurance.
Handling these complexities can be overwhelming, especially after an accident. A local car accident lawyer can be invaluable in this situation. They can help you with these steps, communicate with insurance companies, and represent you in legal proceedings. Their understanding of Indiana’s specific laws and regulations can help you navigate this difficult situation and get the compensation you deserve.
Which State’s Laws Apply to the Out-of-State Accident?
When you’re involved in an out-of-state car accident, one of the main questions you might have is, “Which state’s laws apply?” Generally, the state’s laws where the accident occurred will apply to the case.
For example, if you live in Chicago, Illinois, and have an accident in Lake County, Indiana, you will be governed by Indiana laws, including those concerning negligence in car accidents. Negligence laws determine who is to blame for the accident and can significantly impact the outcome of your case.
The state of Indiana follows the modified comparative negligence rule. You can recover damages under this rule if you are less than 51% at fault. However, the amount of damages the court allows you to recover will get reduced by the percentage of fault they assign you. For example, if the court finds you to be 30% at fault, you can only recover 70% of your total damages.
On the other hand, Illinois also follows a modified comparative negligence rule, but with a different threshold. In Illinois, you can recover damages as long as you are less than 50% at fault. If you are found to be 50% or more at fault, you won’t be able to recover anything damage-wise.
The differences in these negligence laws can significantly impact the outcome of a car accident case. In Illinois, for example, if the same accident occurred and the court found you to be exactly 50% at fault, they wouldn’t let you recover any damages under Illinois law. However, you may be able to recover a portion of your damages under Indiana law.
These complexities illustrate why it’s critical to have a car accident lawyer who is well-versed in Indiana laws if you’re involved in an accident in Lake County, Indiana. They can navigate these nuances and ensure you’re informed about your rights and potential avenues for recovery.
Will My Car Insurance Cover Me in Another State?
If you’ve been involved in an out-of-state car accident, you might wonder, “Will my car insurance cover me in another state?” In most cases, the answer is yes. Auto insurance policies typically provide coverage throughout the United States and, in some instances, Canada as well. This means that your car insurance should cover an out-of-state accident up to the limits specified in your policy.
Your car insurance follows you, not just your vehicle. As a result, whether you’re driving your own car, a rented car, or a friend’s car, you’re usually covered. It is important to note, however, that your policy will cover you up to the minimum requirements of the state where the accident occurred, even if they are higher than the requirements of the state where you purchased your insurance.
For example, suppose your insurance policy meets the minimum coverage requirements in Illinois, but you have an accident in Indiana, where the minimum coverage requirements are higher. In that case, your insurance company will usually have to match the higher coverage for that accident.
Despite this broad coverage, insurance policies and how they apply in different states vary. To understand the specifics of your coverage, you should always look at your individual policy and talk with your insurance company. In addition, in complex cases involving out-of-state accidents, contacting a local car accident lawyer in the state where the accident happened can be beneficial. They will help you manage the complexities of insurance coverage and local laws, as well as ensure that your rights are protected.
What Are Indiana’s Insurance Requirements?
To drive legally in Indiana, all vehicle drivers must have a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage. In Indiana, the following are the required minimums for auto insurance:
- Bodily injury liability. This form of coverage pays for injuries or deaths to others when you are responsible for an accident. The minimum coverage mandated by law is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in Indiana. It’s crucial to understand that these are only the minimum requirements, and severe accidents can result in damages that far exceed these amounts. Opting for higher limits if you can afford them is often recommended to ensure comprehensive protection.
- Property damage liability. This coverage pays for damage to another person’s property when you are at fault for an accident. The minimum coverage required in Indiana is $25,000 per accident. Again, remember that costs can often exceed this amount, especially in cases involving expensive vehicles or extensive damage.
- Underinsured motorist bodily injury. If you’re unfortunately involved in an accident where the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage falls short in addressing your medical expenses, this coverage steps in. This is important because, depending on the severity of the accident, your medical expenses can easily climb into thousands of dollars or higher. It offers you coverage up to $50,000 per accident.
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury. This coverage safeguards you if you sustain injuries from an accident caused by a driver without any auto insurance. It’s designed to offer a minimum coverage amount of $25,000 for individual claims and $50,000 for collective damages per accident.
- Uninsured motorist property damage. This coverage is designed to cover damage to your vehicle or property if you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. The minimum coverage is $25,000 with a $250 deductible. Essentially, it provides you with peace of mind, knowing that even if you are hit by an uninsured driver, you can get the damage to your vehicle repaired without causing a significant strain on your budget.
These are the legal minimums, and you may choose to purchase additional insurance to protect yourself further. Remember that in the event of an accident, especially one involving injuries or significant damage, these minimum coverages may not be enough to cover all the costs. We always recommend that you speak with an insurance professional or an experienced car accident lawyer to ensure you have adequate coverage based on your specific circumstances.
Filing an Injury Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit after an out-of-state car accident can bring up several questions and considerations, one of the key ones being where you’re allowed to file the lawsuit. Usually, you can file a case in the state where the accident occurred or in the state where the defendant lives.
The issue of jurisdiction — the authority granted to a court to hear and decide certain types of cases — is an essential consideration in an out-of-state car accident. A court must typically have jurisdiction over the parties involved in the case. So, if the other driver in the accident lives in another state, the lawsuit may have to be filed there unless other factors give the court in your home state jurisdiction over the matter.
When filing an injury lawsuit, the process usually follows these steps: filing the initial complaint, serving the other party with a copy of the complaint, going through the discovery process, and then either negotiating a settlement or going to trial.
It’s important to note that while you can file a lawsuit in either your home state or the state where the accident occurred, you’ll almost always need an attorney with a license to practice in the state where the accident occurred. This is because the attorney must be familiar with the state’s specific laws and regulations as well as be admitted to practice law in that state.
For example, a car accident lawyer in Gary, Indiana, will be well-versed in Indiana’s traffic and insurance laws, local court procedures, and negotiation tactics with local insurance adjusters. They can guide you through the complex legal process, advocating for your rights and best interests and ultimately striving to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Lake County Car Accident Lawyer
Hasan Shah is an experienced Lake County car accident lawyer who understands the complex issues surrounding out-of-state car accidents. His extensive knowledge of Indiana law and the local court system has made him an invaluable resource for clients facing these types of cases. Whether you are an Indiana resident or from a neighboring state like Illinois or Michigan, you can benefit from his expertise.
Commuting across state lines for work or simply passing through on a journey can present unexpected challenges, such as becoming involved in an auto accident. When this happens, having a local lawyer to represent you can make a substantial difference.
Hasan Shah is not just familiar with the intricacies of Indiana laws but also deeply understands the local environment, including the rush hours, peak commuting times, and traffic patterns of Lake County. His local knowledge, combined with his legal experience, allows him to provide the most effective representation possible to his clients.
If you are from Illinois or Michigan and were involved in a car accident while in Lake County, Indiana, Hasan Shah is ready to step in as your local representative. He understands the emotional and financial stress that such an incident can cause and is committed to advocating for your rights and interests. Don’t let the complexities of an out-of-state accident overwhelm you. Reach out to SLG Accident Attorneys for a free case evaluation and let their expertise guide you through this challenging time to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Some of the locations we serve include Gary, Hammond, Crown Point, East Chicago, Hobart, Merrillville, Portage, and more.