Experiencing an accident can be a terrifying experience, which can become only more daunting once it’s over and you remember that you are not in your home state.
Having an accident while travelling can cause a variety of added issues to an already unfortunate situation. If you escape a car accident uninjured, your car will still most likely need work and you may need to appear in court. All these aspects become doubly hard when you’re not in your home state.
If you experience an out of state accident, it’s important to understand the steps you must take to document the accident and protect yourself from incurring unnecessary costs or having your insurance deny you.
1. Contact the police
Whether you’ve experienced a serious accident or merely a fender bender, if you’re from out of state it’s important that you always contact the authorities since laws can differ between different states and what amount of damage an accident needs to produce to qualify for contacting the police.
For example, in the state of Arizona there only needs to be damage exceeding $300 to require a police report to be filed, while in Alaska it’s over $2000.
You should also keep in mind that fixing a vehicle can be very expensive, much more so than people think. Even a crushed fender can cost upwards of $1000 depending on the make and model of the vehicle damaged.
2. Exchange insurance information
While waiting for the authorities, it’s good to exchange information with the other driver. When doing this, do not admit fault or wrongdoing, since this can impact your insurance claim. All you need is names, addresses, and insurance information and phone numbers.
You can work with a personal injury attorney that can help give you legal help for car crashes, or file a claim with the information collected.
If there are witnesses nearby, see if they will also give you their contact information. Waiting for the police to do so could mean losing them, since many people won’t stick around after the fact for an accident they’re not involved in.
3. Take pictures
Clear pictures are important for your insurance claim. They can help your insurance company assess the extent of the damage and whether or not it’s covered. This can be especially helpful if you’re out of state and can’t have someone from the insurance company come and view the vehicle. If you have any injuries, it’s also important to take photos of those.
4. Go to a hospital
Even if you think you’re fine, it’s important to have a medical professional make that assessment. Initially, the shock and adrenaline of an accident can conceal underlying injuries, such as concussions, neck damage, or muscle injuries. This is especially important if you’re on vacation, since out of state medical claims need to be processed differently.
It’s important to get documentation immediately that connects the injury to the accident, since this will be pertinent to any claim you file. Provide the hospital you visit with all the contact information for yourself and your primary care physician so that information can be forwarded to your doctor.