What Happens if I Get into an Accident in Another State?

by Eric Chaffin | Last Updated: April 9, 2021

Being involved in an auto accident is frightening enough when it happens in your hometown. Now imagine the stress and confusion of being in a crash while driving outside of Pennsylvania.

What happens with out-of-state accidents, and what laws apply?

If you suffered both serious property damage and injuries, you likely have questions. Will your insurance provide full coverage? Do you have grounds to sue a negligent driver? The easiest way to protect your rights and gain clarity is by working with a trusted Pittsburgh personal injury attorney from our team.

Out-of-state car accident claims are seldom cut and dry. There may be multiple liable parties, and every case is unique. Generally speaking, injured victims may be eligible to file a claim in the state where the collision occurred or the state where the defendant resides.

Out-of-state accidents: insurance coverage

The first thing to keep in mind is that most insurance policies provide out-of-state coverage. This means you are covered when traveling anywhere within the continental U.S. Some policies even provide coverage in parts of Canada. Before taking a road trip, it’s a good idea to review the fine print in your contract and ask questions if you have doubts.

In all likelihood, your auto insurance coverage will automatically adjust. If the crash occurred in a state where liability limits are lower than Pennsylvania, your policy would still provide the maximum coverage you have purchased. If the state’s liability limits are higher than your own, your insurance will still meet that state’s minimum.

Why you need an attorney for an out-of-state accident  

Out-of-state wrecks can raise issues of jurisdiction as well. If it occurred in New York, then their courts would most likely have the authority to hear a personal injury case– even if you and the other driver are both Pennsylvania residents. The jurisdiction can be very relevant to the success of your claim because of how different state laws interpret and assign fault.

In accidents that result in more than $75,000 in damages, the suit may be heard in federal rather than state court. Whenever possible, your Pittsburgh car accident lawyer will try and argue for a jurisdiction that would prove most favorable for your case.

Follow basic protocol after the accident

Whether the accident happened in Ohio, Virginia, or another state, always follow these steps to protect your rights:

  • Call the police
  • Check yourself and passengers for injuries
  • Exchange insurance and contact information with all involved parties
  • Call your insurance company to report the accident
  • Take photos or video to document the accident damage
  • Get contact information of witnesses
  • Seek medical attention, even if you appear to be unharmed

Be sure to tell your insurance provider exactly where the accident occurred. You may have provisions that cover tow truck expenses and other related costs. Then contact us to discuss your next steps.

Suing an at-fault driver

In summary, your personal injury claim may be governed by the law of the state where the accident occurred. However, if the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured, Pennsylvania laws may govern your UM/UIM claim.

Contact us today for a free consultation

The time limits for filing an injury claim may be shorter than you think, depending on the state where the accident took place. We leverage our experience and skill to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Out-of-state litigation can be complex, so it’s in your best interest to speak with a Pittsburgh car accident attorney from our team as soon as possible.

Call or text us anytime, 24/7, to request a free case evaluation.