Man calling on his cellphone after a car accident

Steps to Take Following an Out-of-State Accident

Have you ever wondered what to do if you’re involved in a car accident while out of state? It’s a situation that can bring unique challenges and questions. Understanding the essential steps to take immediately after such an incident is crucial for your safety, peace of mind, and legal protection.

Assess Your Safety and Health First

In the immediate aftermath of an out-of-state car accident, your first priority should always be safety and health. Check yourself and others for injuries. Even if injuries seem minor, it’s essential to be cautious; some symptoms can appear later. If there are any signs of injury or if the accident is serious, call 911 immediately. While waiting for help, if it’s safe, move to a secure location away from traffic to avoid further harm. 

Report the Accident

After ensuring everyone’s safety, it’s crucial to report the accident. Contact the local police or highway patrol immediately. A formal accident report is not just a legal requirement in many states; it’s also an essential document for insurance and legal purposes. The officers will document the scene and gather statements, providing an objective account of the event. Ensure you obtain a copy of this report, as it will be vital for any insurance claims or legal actions that may follow.

Document Everything

Documenting every detail of the accident is a critical step. Use your smartphone to take clear photos of the vehicles involved, the overall accident scene, and any injuries sustained. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, but avoid discussing the fault or details of the incident. Additionally, gather contact details of any witnesses. Note down specific details like the time, date, location, and weather conditions at the time of the accident. This comprehensive documentation can be invaluable when dealing with insurance companies or legal matters later on, especially when you’re far from home.

Understand the Local Laws

Navigating an accident in a different state means dealing with unfamiliar local laws and regulations. Traffic laws and insurance claim procedures can vary significantly from state to state. It’s crucial to have a basic understanding of these differences to ensure you’re compliant with local requirements. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from local law enforcement or legal counsel. This knowledge can be pivotal in protecting your rights and ensuring a smooth resolution to any claims or legal issues arising from the accident.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Promptly contacting your insurance company is a key step after an out-of-state accident. Inform them about the incident as soon as possible, providing detailed information and any documentation you’ve gathered. This will initiate the claim process. Be prepared to explain the specifics of the accident, including the location and any involved parties. Your insurer will guide you through their procedure, which may have particular stipulations for accidents occurring outside your home state. Clear communication with your insurer is essential for a smooth claims process.

Seek Legal Advice

Seeking legal advice after an out-of-state accident can be immensely beneficial, especially when navigating unfamiliar territory. A personal injury attorney with experience in multi-state accidents can offer guidance and support. They can help you understand the nuances of differing state laws and ensure your rights are protected throughout the insurance and legal processes. Additionally, an attorney can assist in handling any complexities or disputes. 

Get Help If You’ve Been Involved in an Out-of-State Accident

At Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman, we can provide qualified legal assistance for out-of-state accident cases. Our experienced team is dedicated to protecting your rights and guiding you through every step of the legal process. If you’re facing the complexities of an out-of-state accident, contact us for reliable and professional support tailored to your unique situation.

About the Author
Jefferson D. Gilder is a Partner at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman and was admitted to the Mississippi and Tennessee Bars in 1990. Mr. Gilder is admitted to practice in all courts in Mississippi and Tennessee including Federal Court, the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Gilder's areas of practice include personal injury, criminal, medical malpractice, civil rights, and product liability. Mr. Gilder spent his first ten years as an attorney practicing with his father, Robert G. Gilder, at Gilder Law Firm in Southaven, Mississippi before forming Gilder, Howell & Assoc., P.A. with Jamie W. Howell, Jr. in June of 2000. This firm although as another legal entity has now combined their resources and experience with Chatham – Pittman, to form Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Jefferson through our contact page.