Things To Consider When Dealing With An Out-Of-State Accident

Posted on: 5 February 2016

Dealing with an auto accident that happens in your hometown can be stressful enough, but it can be a downright nightmare if you get into an accident in another state. Your insurance company will usually take care of many of the aspects of the case, which may make things easier. The case can get a little tricky, though, if you have to sue the defendant directly for damages. Here are three things you need to consider when litigating an out-of-state accident.

Where to File the Lawsuit?

The first issue that will have the biggest impact on your case is where to file the lawsuit. You may have your choice of filing where you live, where the defendant lives, or where the accident actually took place if all three locations are different. Be aware, though, that you will be subjected to the laws of the state where the case is filed, which may differ. For instance, California bans all drivers from holding cell phones or text messaging while driving. Arizona, on the other hand, only bans school bus drivers from engaging in that activity. Differing laws can affect the outcome of your case, so it's essential that you choose wisely.

Another thing to consider when you're choosing where to sue is whether you'll be able to make your court dates. Filing in a state that may be more favorable to your lawsuit won't help much if you can't show up to court, and failure to show may result in your case being dismissed, requiring you to go through the trouble of filing again.

However, if you file in your state, the defendant may not show up. In this case, though, you may win your case by default. Be advised, though, that the defendant can contest or appeal a default judgment for a period of time after the court case has ended. This time limit varies by state. If the defendant successfully wins his or her appeal, you'll have to litigate the case again.

Lastly, each state has a statute of limitations that dictates how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit against another party. This, too, can vary between states, which may or may not work in your favor. For instance, in the rare occurrence that your or the other person's insurance company takes an inordinate amount of time to deny your claim, having the option to sue in a state where the statute of limitation is up to 2 to 3 years after the date of the accident could be immensely helpful.

Where to Hire Attorney?

If you require the assistance of an attorney to help litigate your case, you may run into some issues there as well. Namely, you'll have to decide whether to hire someone from your home state to represent you in an out-of-state court case or to get an attorney in the state where you're filing your case.

It's generally easier to hire a local attorney, since you can conduct in-person interviews to ensure the person is right for you. However, you must request permission from the court to let an attorney licensed in another state represent you. Whether or not the court will approve depends on the jurisdiction. Some are welcoming to out-of-state attorneys and others are not.

If you happen to file your case in a jurisdiction that generally doesn't approve of out-of-state attorneys, then you'll have to hire someone from the state where you're filing your case, which can be challenging. Your insurance company may be able to help you in this area as sometimes policies will pay for legal assistance. At the very least, they may be able to recommend someone in that area. The Internet can also provide assistance with locating a lawyer.

For more information about suing for an out-of-state accident or assistance with a case, contact a personal injury lawyer, such as those at LeBaron & Jensen, P.C..