When you’re on vacation, the possibility of getting into a car accident is probably the last thing on your mind. However, accidents happen when you least expect, so it’s always possible.
If you get into a car accident while you’re on vacation in another state, you might need to do things a little differently than how you’re used to at home. For example, some states have comparative negligence laws and a handful have no-fault insurance laws. You’ll need to know about these things ahead of time to be truly prepared.
Here are some preventive measures as well as what to do after you’ve been involved in an accident on vacation.
1. Read up on state laws before traveling
No matter where you’re going, read up on state laws before you head out to your destination. Don’t go anywhere unprepared because certain states have laws that will seem backwards to you.
While many things remain the same, state laws will determine the way you can legally proceed after an accident. For example, in Florida, you can’t sue an at-fault driver unless your injuries meet the legal definition of severe. However, if your injuries qualify, you’ll need an attorney to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
2. Document everything in detail
When you’re in an unfamiliar area, you won’t necessarily have the opportunity to go back and look at the scene of the accident to verify details at a later time. It’s very possible that you might have already gone home by the time you realize you should have looked a little deeper.
For example, say you ran a stop sign and the insurance company says you’re at fault. While fault is technically there when you run a stop sign, if you didn’t see the stop sign because it was completely covered by an unmaintained bush, you might have a case against the city.
If you didn’t notice the obstruction the day of your accident, it’s possible that it could be trimmed back before you realize you never saw the stop sign. If you leave the area before getting a photo, you won’t have a chance to go back and get a picture.
3. Carry the right amount of car insurance
Are you traveling to a no-fault state? If so, you might need more coverage than what you have at home.
Find out if your destination requires drivers to carry and use their own auto insurance in case of an accident. If you’re driving your own car, make absolutely certain you have enough coverage for a no-fault state. Typically, you’ll want at least $10,000 in coverage because that’s about what the laws require in these states.
Without enough coverage, you’ll be on your own to cover damages and medical bills. No-fault states don’t make exceptions for out-of-state drivers. Also, if you’re renting a car in a no-fault state, consider getting full coverage just to make sure you’re truly covered.
4. Get detailed information
After a car accident, it’s always important to exchange information with other drivers involved in the accident. However, when you’re on vacation, you’ll want to make sure you get all the details. For instance, make sure you write down the car’s license plate number, state of issue, and make and model.
When collecting information on the drivers, ask to see their driver’s license and copy down their legal name, address, and license number. Never leave it up to them to write down their information for you. Also, take photos of the accident and damage before you move the cars, if possible.
Being out of state will make it a little harder to pursue a claim when you don’t have the correct information. If you don’t get accurate information from the other driver(s), you might not be able to find them.
Also, be sure to get detailed information from any witnesses to the accident. Get their full name, phone number, and email address.
5. Ask your witnesses to share what they saw on the spot
You’ll have stronger evidence when you can get your witnesses to share what they saw on the spot. Ask if they’d be willing to share on camera and then film them sharing their perception of the accident. This will ensure you get an accurate statement from them since time can alter memories.
Above all, drive safely on your vacation. While you can’t predict or prevent every accident, you can play an active role in reducing the possibility of getting into an accident in the first place.