Does My Tennessee Car Insurance Cover an Out-of-State Accident?

Welcome to North Carolina signIf you drive out-of-state for your next family vacation, you may wonder if you will be covered by your insurance if you are involved in a car accident. The short answer is, probably. However, there are some differences that may apply, depending on the state and applicable car insurance.

Greg Coleman Law answers common questions about accidents that happen outside of the state where you live, including how they affect your insurance coverage and which laws may apply.

If another’s negligent driving caused you to suffer harm in an out-of-state car crash, the experienced attorneys at our firm are prepared to provide legal help. We offer a complimentary consultation, and we welcome the opportunity to help determine whether you may have a valid case.

How is My Insurance Coverage Impacted?

Your car insurance policy is designed to cover you wherever you travel nationwide, including in U.S. territories. However, the coverage limits may sometimes translate differently when you are in another state.

For example, in Tennessee, the minimum required property damage limits you must purchase, $15,000, is one of the lowest in the country. Why does this matter? If the minimum limits are higher in the state where your accident happened, your insurer may raise your limits to meet that state’s minimum coverage for that accident. All insurance companies do not do this, but you can speak with your provider to get more information on what limits may apply, based on your situation. If the minimum limits in the state are lower, your minimum coverage will not decrease.

Where Do I File a Claim for Compensation?

An out-of-state claim is typically filed in either the defendant’s state or in the state where the accident occurred. So, for example, if you are from Tennessee and were injured by a negligent driver in North Carolina, you would be required to file your claim in that state. However, if the at-fault driver was a resident of Florida and only visiting North Carolina, your choice would be either to file the claim in Florida or North Carolina.

Which State Laws May Apply?

Figuring out where to file your claim may seem confusing enough. However, determining which state laws may apply to an accident is where the challenges really begin. It is best to discuss the specific details of your situation with one of our knowledgeable Knoxville car accident lawyers in the free consultation that we offer.

In general, however, the laws of the state where the accident occurred apply. So, in addition to what state the accident happened in, the insurance benefits that may be available are dependent on:

  • Who was at-fault for the accident
  • The type of coverage both you and the other party carry
  • Whether you share any liability
  • The type of fault system where the accident occurred

For example, North Carolina is a state that follows a pure contributory negligence system. If you were involved in an accident in North Carolina and assigned even one percent liability for the crash, you will not be able to recover any damages. This is one very good reason to contact an attorney after an out-of-state car accident. Additionally, you should never admit fault at the scene of an accident or say anything that could be interpreted as admitting fault.

Innocent statements that may make you look guilty even if you are not, include: 

  • Apologizing for anything
  • Admitting you did not look both ways before proceeding - even if the light was green
  • Revealing your brakes have not been checked for awhile, so you could not stop as quickly

It is best, after an accident, to let an attorney communicate on your behalf. If you need to answer a police officer's questions at the scene of the crash, it is best to stick to the facts.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

The statute of limitations, which is how much time the state gives you to file an injury claim, is also determined by where the accident happened.

In Tennessee, drivers and passengers have just one year from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim after suffering injuries in a car accident. Those filing deadlines are vastly different from state to state. For example, if your accident was in Florida, the statute of limitations gives accident victims four years from the date of your car crash to file a claim. Be aware that in other states or under different circumstances, those deadlines could be significantly shorter. Having an attorney on your side to help you understand what dates may apply in your situation is important. If you miss that deadline, you will likely be barred from recovering any damages.

Getting Legal Help for Your Out-of-State Accident

Having an out-of-state accident can feel overwhelming, especially if you are recovering from injuries while you are trying to figure out how to obtain the compensation you need for medical costs, property damages, lost wages and other losses.

At Greg Coleman Law, we have obtained millions in compensation for the injured in Tennessee. We have extensive experience with car accident lawsuits, and if we take your case, we are prepared to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.

Call to schedule your free consultation anytime. There is no risk or obligation to you. We do not charge you anything up front or throughout the legal process. We only get paid after obtaining compensation for you.

Greg Coleman Law for experienced legal help. (865) 247-0080