What Should I Do If I Get into a Car Accident Outside of California?

Whether you’re on a business trip or vacation, there will be times when you leave the state of California. Unless you rely on public transportation or Ubers to get around, you’ll probably be driving yourself. Even though you might be extremely cautious, it’s still possible to get into a car accident. You’re sharing the road with other drivers, many of whom are distracted or simply in too much of a rush.

What should you do when you get into a car accident in another state? How can you move forward to recover compensation for your injuries? Here’s what you need to know.

State Car Accident and Insurance Laws Vary

Did you get into an accident a “fault’ state like California or a “no-fault” state like Oregon? The answer matters. Why? This dictates the first steps you’ll need ot take if you’re injured in a crash.

Under California’s fault system, you’d file an injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. You don’t have to file a claim with your own insurance provider first. If someone else is responsible for your accident, you’d turn to their insurance company for money, rather than your own.

In states like Oregon that have a no-fault system, you’d be required to file a claim with your insurance company after a car accident, regardless of who’s at fault. You’d then be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused you to get hurt if your damages exceeded what your insurance company would pay.

You Always Need to Seek Medical Attention and Report an Accident, Regardless of Where It Happens

There are two things that you absolutely have to do if you’re involved in a car accident: see a doctor and report the crash. These steps are critical not only for your own health and well-being, but any injury claims you decide to file.

Find Your Local Hospital

Take a trip to the closest emergency room, even if you don’t think that you’ve been injured. Don’t wait to go to the doctor until you’re back home in California. You may have suffered internal harm or injuries that aren’t symptomatic yet. Delaying medical care could allow these injuries to progress and get worse. Rather than dealing with a straightforward injury, you might be faced with life-threatening complications and long-term harm. 

You should also see a doctor right away because your injuries will be documented in a medical report. The report will help to create a causal link between the crash and your injuries. This can be critical if, down the line, you decide to file an injury claim or lawsuit.

Call the Police or File a Report 

When you get into an accident in California, you’re legally required to report it if anyone is injured or killed, or if there’s property damage in excess of $1,000. Many other states also have similar reporting requirements. If you’re on vacation or business out-of-state and get into an accident, failing to report your crash could hurt your ability to recover insurance benefits or file a lawsuit.

Let’s say you’re vacationing in Austin, Texas when you’re rear-ended in a car accident. You call the police, but they’re unable to send an officer right away because of a more serious accident that happened across town. The other driver gets tired of waiting and leaves the scene, after making sure that you’re okay and providing you with their insurance information, as required by law. 

Can you still report the accident? Yes. In fact, you’re required to if you got hurt, someone was killed, or there was more than $1,000 of damage to any property. The process is similar to that in California.

You can go online to the Texas Department of Transportation website and download or print a copy of the “CR-2 Driver’s Crash Report.” Drivers are required, by law, to submit this form within 10 days of an accident. You’ll have to provide information about the vehicles and drivers involved the crash, descriptions of injuries, and a list of property damage. 

If you don’t report your accident, you can jeopardize your ability to get money for your injuries and damages.