White car rushes along the road to the sea

With our top-rated attractions, pristine beaches and waterways, and tons of family-friendly activities, it’s no wonder that tourism is a leading industry in South Carolina. People from across the country – and even the world – travel to South Carolina every year to enjoy the state we’re lucky to call home.

As the weather heats up, more and more people from out of town will be hitting the streets. With many traveling by car, the risk of out-of-state car accidents increases. Reversely, you might be the one hitting the road when driving from South Carolina to another state, leaving you to wonder, “ What happens if I’m involved in a crash in another state?”

How does an out-of-state car crash affect your insurance claim? Does it make it easier for an insurance company to deny you a payout? If you have to sue the at-fault driver after an out-of-state car accident, where do you do that? These are all reasonable questions.

Your best bet if you’ve been injured in an out-of-state accident is to talk to an experienced S.C. car accident attorney about the steps you need to take. A consultation is free and will help you understand your legal options. Our attorneys at Joye Law Firm have been handling car accident claims for more than 50 years. We are ready to assist you. Our law firm has offices in Charleston, Columbia, Clinton, Summerville, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Let us review the details of your accident and discuss how we may assist you. Contact us today.

What Is an Out-Of-State Car Accident?

An out-of-state car accident is a motor vehicle accident in which one of the drivers involved is not a resident of the state where the accident happened.

For example, a South Carolina resident who is injured while traveling in Georgia or North Carolina may have an out-of-state accident claim.

Your first steps after an out-of-state car accident are the same as if you were involved in a car accident at home:

  • Call the police and, if needed, an ambulance
  • Exchange names, contact information, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information with the other driver
  • See a doctor within 24 hours, regardless of how you feel. Some serious injuries, including potentially fatal head injuries, may present only mild symptoms immediately after the injury
  • Notify your insurance company of the accident

Out-of-State Car Insurance Claims

The fact that you were in a car crash in another state should have no effect on your insurance claim. Most auto insurance policies cover policyholders when they travel in any of the 50 states or in U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Some U.S. auto insurance policies will cover you when you are in Canada, as well. However, most policies will not protect you in Mexico unless you buy additional coverage. If you plan to drive outside of the U.S., you should contact your insurance company about your coverage.

If your permanent address has changed since your last premium payment, you should promptly notify your insurance company to update your policy.

After filing a claim, if an insurance adjuster suggests the company won’t pay because the accident was out of state, then the insurer may be acting in bad faith. You should contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to review the situation.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit After an Out-Of-State Car Accident

If the other driver is at fault, your insurance provider should pay your claim and then recoup its payment from the company that holds the at-fault driver’s auto liability policy. If the other driver or their insurer denies fault, your insurer may withhold payment and do little to advocate on your behalf.

If you are counting on the at-fault driver’s liability coverage to pay your medical bills and vehicle property damage, you may have to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance. If the insurer disputes liability, you may need to file a lawsuit, demanding compensation for your medical bills and other losses from the accident. A knowledgeable injury attorney at Joye Law Firm can help you understand the issues involved and your rights.

Anytime an accident occurs in another state, a car accident lawsuit typically must be filed in the state where the accident occurred. There may be other issues to consider, including:

  • State negligence laws

Some states are more restrictive than others when it comes to filing car accident lawsuits. For example, South Carolina is a modified comparative negligence state. That means plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found to be 51% or more at fault for an accident. Georgia also applies a comparative negligence standard in assessing fault. But North Carolina and Virginia follow a more strict contributory negligence doctrine, meaning the plaintiff cannot recover any compensation if he or she contributed in any way to the accident. It’s helpful to discuss those factors with a knowledgeable attorney when deciding where to file a lawsuit.

  • State statutes of limitations

Each state sets deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. Most states allow two or three years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the case involves a government entity, the timeframe may be even shorter. However, even two years is a short amount of time to investigate an accident and prepare a lawsuit. That’s why you should consult an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

  • Third-party claims

If you were injured in an accident caused by a commercial motor vehicle from another state, such as a tractor-trailer or tour bus, the company that owns the vehicle and employs the driver may have legal responsibility for your injuries. You may want to file a lawsuit in the state where the company has its principal place of business or where an out-of-state driver resides.

These are all important considerations that our experienced out-of-state accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm will evaluate when determining how to represent our client most effectively.

Contact an Experienced S.C. Personal Injury Attorney Today

After being significantly injured in a car accident, you will benefit from speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal rights and the appropriate steps to take. A car accident attorney at Joye Law Firm can explain how an out-of-state car accident may affect your ability to pursue compensation for your losses. The consultation is free and will provide you with a clearer understanding of your legal options.

Our attorneys at Joye Law Firm have been helping South Carolina residents recover compensation for car accidents since 1968. We are an experienced law firm with a track record of success and the resources to help you after an out-of-state crash. Contact us today at 888-324-3100 or online for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.


About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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