What to do After an Out-of-State Car Accident in Tampa
Florida residents are known for traveling. With so many great states surrounding The Sunshine State, it is not uncommon for Floridians to vacation in Louisiana, Georgia, or the Carolinas. And many Florida residents are not actually from the state, so many travel throughout the country to visit friends and family that are still in their home states. But those trips can quickly turn from fun to frightening when a car accident occurs. And this leaves many wondering what to do after an out-of-state car accident.
For those in Florida, this can be a complicated matter. While Florida is a no-fault state, many of the states surrounding it are not. No-fault insurance requires drivers to initially go through their own insurance company in order to claim accident benefits for things such as medical treatment, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Because of this, when a driver is driving their own car, they can still go through their Florida insurance company for expenses such as medical bills and hotel or hospital stays if those are required while the driver recovers.
When the driver is not the owner of the car they are driving, however, it becomes a bit more complicated. Florida’s no-fault insurance will not provide coverage for these drivers, but the insurance of the at-fault driver may. This coverage is not typically provided right away, though, so injured parties may have to pay for the expenses themselves, either out-of-pocket or through their health insurance. It is important that the receipts for all of these expenses are kept. The at-fault insurance company will reimburse the out-of-state driver, but not without proof that those expenses were incurred.
If there was damage to the car and it can be driven back home, repairs can wait until the driver returns back to Florida. If it cannot be driven after the accident, it will need to be repaired where the accident occurred. Either way, the insurance company will send an adjustor to actually see the vehicle and its damages; and this can take up to a week.
If a rental car is required during that time, this expense works just like any other. If the vehicle is owned by the driver, the driver’s insurance company may cover the cost of the rental. If not, the insurance of the at-fault driver may cover the costs of a rental car but that too will take some time.
If there are serious injuries and the driver wishes to file a personal injury lawsuit, this will have to be filed in the state where the accident happened. If the driver has a lawyer in Florida, they can speak to them about representing them out-of-state, but many attorneys are not licensed to practice in other states, so they may have to hire an attorney in the state where the accident occurred. However, Florida attorneys can negotiate with insurance companies prior to any lawsuit on the injured person’s behalf. If a lawsuit does become necessary, the Florida attorney can sometimes stay involved as an advisor or second attorney for the injured person.
Getting into a car accident is always stressful, but when the accident occurs out-of-state, it can be even more so. Even when injuries are not present, drivers should still contact a personal injury lawyer, particularly if they are going to have to pay for expenses such as a car rental. An attorney can deal with the insurance companies, make sure that expenses are reimbursed in a timely manner, and if benefits are to be paid, ensure the settlement is fair to the injured parties. If you have been involved in an out-of-state car accident, consult one of the experienced attorneys at Slater | Grant and know that you are in capable hands.
Mr. Slater is a founding member of Slater | Grant. His practice focuses on representing clients in injury and death claims, professional liability claims, and business disputes. He is also experienced in handling a wide variety of other disputes and litigation, such as those involving insurance, construction defects, consumer fraud, and whistleblower claims.