There’s one thing that all bikes, motorcycles, cars and trucks have in common: They’re designed to be mobile. Their entire purpose revolves around moving people and things from place to place.
Accidents can happen whether you’re five minutes from home or 500 miles away. You can also find yourself in an accident with a driver who is only visiting the area for a while, like someone from the East Coast who is merely taking advantage of the mild California winters for a few weeks or even days.
Most likely, you will work with an insurance adjuster no matter where you are
If you were hit by an out-of-state driver while driving, riding your bike or walking, you will most likely pursue a claim through the at-fault driver’s insurer.
Filing a claim isn’t like filing a lawsuit. While you should still consider asking an attorney to represent your interests, you can generally work with the insurance adjuster via phone and email. Most injury claims are successfully resolved that way (eventually).
When they aren’t, things can get a little more complicated.
Personal jurisdiction controls where you file your injury lawsuit
If the insurance company won’t listen to reason or the negligent driver denies their liability, you may have to move forward with a lawsuit. This is where something known as “jurisdiction” comes into play.
A court is said to have “jurisdiction” when it has the authority to hear a case and make a binding decision on the parties involved. In this situation, you have the right to sue the driver who hit you either:
- In their home state
- In the state where the accident occurred
You could not, however, sue the other party from a different state — even if that is where you currently reside.
Frankly, most people who get involved in out-of-state wrecks aren’t eager to end up in court because it means a lot of extra travel and expense. That may give you some room to negotiate. Make sure that you have an experienced legal advocate on your side.