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When you travel out of state for business or vacation, the last thing you expect is to suffer an injury. However, accidents can happen any time, any place. If you get injured out of state, the legal process for obtaining financial compensation will look a little different than an accident in the state where you live. Take these steps to pursue a legal resolution after any type of out-of-state accident, whether it is an auto collision or slip and fall.
The first step is often finding the right personal injury attorney to represent you. This can be tricky. Although you may wish to work with an attorney you already know in your home state, this will only be possible if that lawyer is licensed in the state where your injury took place. The lawyer you choose must have a valid legal license in the state where the accident occurred. This may lead to hiring a lawyer from out of state. Find a law firm in the correct state with experience handling cases like yours, honest and trustworthy attorneys, and affordable fees.
Once you hire a personal injury lawyer, he or she will help you file a claim. First, this will mean calling the at-fault party’s insurance company to seek insurance benefits. Most personal injury cases resolve at this stage with successful insurance settlements. You may not need to travel anywhere to achieve an insurance settlement, even if you have already returned to your home state. Instead, you can conduct settlement negotiations over the phone or have your out-of-state attorney appear in person at meetings on your behalf.
If, however, the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement amount for your injuries and losses, your case may need to go to trial. In this scenario, you may need to return to the state where your accident took place, as this county will generally have jurisdiction over the lawsuit. It may also be possible to file a lawsuit in the county where the defendant resides if this is more convenient for you. Your out-of-state attorney will file the paperwork to initiate your lawsuit in the correct county on your behalf.
One of the most complicated aspects of an out-of-state personal injury case is which laws will apply to the lawsuit. According to the rules of the civil justice system, the laws of the state where the accident and injury took place will preside over a personal injury case. It will be necessary, therefore, to learn how the laws in the other state differ from the laws in your home state.
In California, for instance, a car accident case will involve the fault-based insurance system. This system means the person or party responsible for causing the collision will be liable for your losses. If you get into a car accident in a no-fault state, on the other hand, such as Florida or New Jersey, your own insurance provider would pay for your losses regardless of who caused the car accident. Your out-of-state personal injury lawyer can explain the laws that will apply to your specific case to you in detail.
Finally, your attorney will help you negotiate your out-of-state personal injury claim for the best possible results. Although an insurance company may try to take advantage of you, your attorney will have the knowledge, skill, experience and resources to fight for fair and full financial compensation for your past and future losses.
A lawyer will want to maximize your financial award, not make it as small as possible. An insurance company, on the other hand, wants to save money by minimizing your recovery. If the insurance company refuses to handle your case fairly, your out-of-state attorney can represent you at trial to pursue maximum financial compensation. Hire an attorney for the simplest legal process – and best outcome – possible.