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Five things you should never do after a car accident while traveling

Avoid these five mistakes after a car accident on vacation.

Getting out of town for a little while is fun, especially when you’re taking a vacation somewhere interesting or beautiful. Maybe you like driving cross-country, setting up a campsite in a national park, or heading to the mountains. Wherever you go, it’s important to know what to do if you’re ever involved in a car accident. Some of the same, basic rules apply across the board, but traveling comes with a few special considerations.

1. Don’t let the statute of limitations run out
If you’re involved in a car accident outside of your home state, it’s crucial to know the statute of limitations where the accident took place. For example, in Texas, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim or lawsuit under normal circumstances. However, if the accident involves a government worker, you may only have as little as 90 days to file your lawsuit.

After seeking medical attention, it’s crucial to consult with a personal injury attorney to go over your case.

2. Don’t assume you can file a lawsuit
If your accident took place in a no-fault state, you will need to follow a different set of rules than what you’re used to in your home state. In no-fault states, each party involved in a car accident needs to file a claim with their insurance company to get compensation for property damage and injuries. You can’t automatically sue the other party, even if they are at fault.

In no-fault states, there are exceptions to this rule, but your injuries must meet specific requirements in terms of severity. For example, in most no-fault states, you can only file a lawsuit if you’ve been permanently disfigured, scarred, or disabled according to the state’s unique requirements.

3. Don’t make any statements
It’s tempting to talk to the other people involved in your accident so you don’t come off as indifferent to the situation, but that’s not a good idea. You never want to say anything that might imply you are accepting responsibility for being at fault. Even saying something like, “I’m sorry” can come back to bite you later. You might have just been apologizing in general for the situation, but an insurance company will try to use that as an admission of fault.

Never make statements about the following:

1. Admitting fault or apologizing
2. Guessing the cause of the accident
3. Threatening another driver
4. Your injuries

If asked to make an official statement to the other party’s insurance company, consult an attorney first. Once you make that statement, the insurance company will compare all other statements and testimony against that one statement, and will try to deny your claim for discrepancies.

Another reason to avoid making statements is the fact that your words can be misinterpreted and twisted, either intentionally or not. If you aren’t running a video camera to capture the interaction with clear audio the entire time, everything you say will potentially be documented by the other party and it will likely be inaccurate and out of context. People don’t always do this on purpose; it’s just an unfortunate reality regarding the faulty nature of human memory.

4. Don’t leave the scene of the accident
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. Whether you think you are at fault or not, never drive away from the scene because you will eventually be found and prosecuted. For instance, in March 2023, a semi-truck fled the scene after being involved in a fatal crash in Plano, Texas. There were many witnesses and eventually, the driver was found and charged with a second-degree felony.

No matter how far you are from home, never think you won’t be found. Always stop after an accident and call the appropriate authorities, whether it’s the police or 9-1-1.

5. Never travel without additional insurance
Your car insurance follows your car, not you. This means if you are driving your usual car on vacation or a road trip, you should be covered in other states if you have a standard policy. However, some states have specific laws that require more coverage and different types of coverage, so make sure you check with your provider before hitting the road. You might need extra insurance for your trip.

Know your legal obligations while traveling
Before you head out, find out what the laws are and cover yourself with the right type of insurance, just in case you’re involved in an accident. Hopefully, that won’t be the case, but it’s better to be prepared for the possibility.

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