Injured in Another State? What Are Your Legal Options?

Each year, countless numbers of travelers cross state lines for business and for leisure. Unfortunately, accidents happen. When an accident occurs in another state and far from the comforts of home, things can become complicated. When it comes to injuries incurred out of state, factors such as jurisdiction and insurance obligations have to be considered and accounted for. The question is: When injured in another state, what are the victim’s legal options? 

Jurisdiction 

In order to file suit in a specific state, the court an individual files in must have jurisdiction over the claim. In other terms, the state that one is suing must have jurisdiction over the defendant, be it a person, business, or entity responsible for injuries. The easiest way to proceed is to file a lawsuit in the state where the accident occurred. Whether or not the defendant is from that state, the court typically has jurisdiction over the defendant because the injurious accident occurred in that state. 

It may be possible for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit in their own home state against a defendant if the defendant has minimum contacts in the plaintiff’s home state. Examples of “contact” include: 1) If the party does business is in the plaintiff’s home state 2) If the party maintains a home in the plaintiff’s home state or 3) If the party had a contract formed in the plaintiff’s home state.  

For a person that experienced an injury in New Mexico, there is no better place to find a personal injury attorney in Albuquerque than The Davis Kelen Law Firm. The Davis Kelin Law Firm specializes in handling personal injury cases in New Mexico with an aggressive, complex trial approach. Ben Davis and Zackeree S. Kelin are both personal injury lawyers who focus on representing each client on an individual basis. Unlike most other law firms, Davis Kelen Law Firm covers all of the litigation costs necessary to achieve a favorable resolution. Looking beyond compensation, the lawyers at Davis Kelen believe in litigating injury cases to ensure wrongdoers are punished for their part. 

At-Fault State vs No-Fault State 

States have two types of insurance methods to choose in their mandates for residents⁠—tort, or at-fault, and no-fault. Depending on the state, the insurance can be strictly one or the other, or in some instances it can be a combination of both. 

No-fault insurance means that the insurance of each individual will cover their own injuries and property damage, rather than paying out the expenses of the other party involved. A no-fault claim will be made through Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. A PIP claim is made by a person to their own insurer for the payment of medical bills, lost earnings, and certain out-of-pocket damages. Do note that with no-fault, a person is not allowed to receive compensation for pain and suffering in a claim. The only way to circumvent no-fault rules and file a liability claim or personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault party is when medical bills reach a certain level of the state threshold. 

Tort mandates that the law designates “fault” and the person at fault is responsible for all medical bills, damage costs, and pain and suffering of the other parties involved. Fault is generally determined by the state in which the accident has occurred. Insurance will cover up to the limits chosen by the insured, but if costs exceed the limits, then the at-fault insured person will be liable to pay out of pocket. If the insured and insurer do not agree on a claim, the insurer may have to file suit for uncompensated economic damages, including lost wages.