What if You're Injured While Out of State?

  • If you are hurt in another state because of someone else's negligence, you can still file a personal injury lawsuit to obtain financial compensation. Compensation may be necessary to cover your medical bills, lost earnings, living expenses and pain and suffering.

    One of the most important steps in your accident case is to select an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you and determine where to file the lawsuit. If the accident happened in another state, it will probably affect the attorney you choose. For example, if you are in a car accident in the next state over and suffered a back injury, you will need to choose a personal injury lawyer who is licensed in that state.

    This can be a problem for some people who already have an attorney in their home state. If he or she does not have a license to practice in the other state, you cannot work with that attorney on the case. Some will find this fact disappointing, but there are pluses to working with a lawyer licensed in another state.

    Below is more information about hiring an out-of-state attorney, as well as an explanation of the types of cases you may file in your home state.

    Out-of-State Attorneys

    If you are in an out-of-state accident, you will soon find there are many personal injury attorneys to choose from in that state. Also, you may find there are attorneys in your state who are licensed in adjacent states. For example, it is common for Virginia personal injury attorneys to also hold a law license in West Virginia and North Carolina.

    One advantage of working with an attorney who is licensed in the state in which the accident occurred is that he or she will be very familiar with the liability and fault laws of that state.

    For example, let’s say you are in a Virginia car accident while visiting from Massachusetts. Massachusetts has no-fault laws. This means that the injured party’s auto insurance company will give them compensation for their accident injuries, regardless of who was at fault. But Virginia is a traditional fault state. This means that you must prove who was at fault in the accident. In Virginia, if you are even partially at fault for the accident, you cannot recover damages. This is known as the pure contributory negligence standard and is one that only a handful of states follow today. It will be very important in a Virginia car accident case to have a personal injury attorney who knows Virginia liability laws thoroughly.

    Filing a Lawsuit in Your State

    Generally, you are required to file a personal injury lawsuit in the state in which the injury occurred. But if you are injured in another state, it may be possible to sue in your home state if the negligent entity or person has some level of contact with your state. For example:

    • The company does business in your home state.
    • The person has a property in your home state.
    • The person is party to a contract that was formed in your home state.

    Usually, if the person or entity who injured you has availed himself or itself of the rights and benefits of your state, you may be able to sue there. But it may be advantageous in any case to file suit in the state in which the accident occurred.

    Summary

    Whether you decide to work with an attorney in your state who is licensed in the other state or you find an out-of-state attorney, hiring an attorney experienced with that state’s personal injury laws and liability standards is very important to having a successful claim or verdict. You should consult with your attorney to determine whether it is better to file suit in your home state or in the state in which the accident occurred.