Out of State Defendants

Auto accident involving two cars on a city street concept.

Accidents are never planned. That’s why they’re called accidents. They are unpredictable, and often include variables that aren’t ideal for your given situation. One such variable is either the location, a move you need to make, or a defendant who is from out of state.

You might be wondering why this could matter, or if it could impact your case at all. And the answer is: it might! The reason it might change the outcome of your case is that if you don’t like the top offer on a case, your recourse is filing a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit brings your case into litigation with the intent of going to trial. There are rules in place, federally and by state, that dictate where your attorney can file a lawsuit for your case. This means that you might not be able to file a lawsuit in your own state. Or you might have to file in a specific area.

When the Other Driver is Out of State

Texas is a destination for many people, and Austin is nearly always packed with tourists. It’s probably safe to assume that at any point in time, you’re driving next to several out-of-state drivers who are completely unfamiliar with the Texas road systems. It’s not necessarily fair to expect all drivers on the road to be familiar with where they’re driving, as that could never be attained. However, this factor does lead to an increase in auto accidents.

Your chances of getting into an accident with someone who doesn’t live in Texas, or even in the city you live in, are quite high. If this happens to you, there are several things you can do to help your case beforehand.

Other than the potential of filing a lawsuit, the defendant’s location only matters if they’re not cooperating with their insurance company. Be sure to get their information, including phone number and address, so if you need to reach them you can.

If you do have to file a lawsuit at the end of your case, you will have options other than using the Defendant’s residency, so you don’t have to worry if one of the other options also doesn't work.

When the Accident was in a Different State

Accidents happen, even when they aren’t convenient. This is especially true during cross-country road trips! If you get into an accident while you’re out of the state, you still have options. There are several things that you might be wondering about, but first and foremost, document everything and call the police if you require medical treatment.

If you go to a hospital or doctor, make sure you write down the name and address of where you go. This is especially important because when you send a demand to the insurance company for reimbursement, you’ll need all your medical bills and sometimes it’s difficult to track them down (we’re talking about a month-long delay in some cases!)

If you reach your destination, and it still isn’t your home, you also still have options for treatment. You can get treatment anywhere for your injuries from a car accident. Although you might not be able to use a letter of protection (which lets you treat injuries from an accident without paying up front), you can use health insurance or pay out of pocket. Keep your receipts and the name of the location, and you can include that treatment in your demand.

If you decide you need to file a lawsuit at the end of your case, you can file where the defendant resides, or where the accident took place. This can get complicated if you live in Texas and your accident happened out of state. Many attorneys are licensed in more than one state, and oftentimes you’ll want an attorney where you live, because they’ll be able to get you into a doctor under the letter of protection. However, if your case demands a lawsuit, and your attorney isn’t licensed there, they will likely refer it out to an attorney in the state of where the accident occurred. Because it’s not always easy to determine what will happen, it might be easiest to discuss your options with whatever attorney you feel comfortable with, whether it’s someone you know from the state where the accident occurred, or a lawyer in your hometown. They’ll be able to help direct you!

When You Move Out of State

You probably don’t want to feel strapped down and stuck because you have a pending personal injury case, and we don’t blame you! Life changes shouldn’t have to be halted by a case, especially when a personal injury case could take anywhere from a year to several years to wrap up.

If you have to move out of state, or even away from the city, just be sure to communicate with your lawyer. Many attorneys, including McKinney Vos, are capable of operating a case from start to finish fully remote, especially if the case doesn’t have to be filed as a lawsuit.

The one thing to note is that if you do have to file a lawsuit, you’ll need to return to wherever you moved from, so long as that’s the location of where the suit is filed. You’ll likely be expected to appear in person for a deposition, mediation and the trial itself. Lately, many attorneys are conducting depositions and mediation remotely, but you should absolutely plan on returning for trial.

Tying it Together

If you were injured in an auto accident and the facts are a little sticky, you still have options. The only reason why location may matter is because of the possibility of filing a lawsuit. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part you need to file a lawsuit either where the defendant resides, or where the accident took place. This can be problematic if both of those things occur in a state that’s different from where you live and reside, because you’ll want to receive treatment close to your home, and attorneys in your hometown will best be able to assist you with that.

In any case, law is not black and white, and there are several factors going into how you can make a decision that’s best for you and your case. Personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, so you can reach out and figure out if hiring a PI attorney in your home state will work for you.