Injured in a Car Accident While Visiting California?

Free Expert Legal Counsel for Car Accident Injury Victims Visiting Los Angeles  

Out-of-state car accidents involve at least one motorist who does not live in the state where the crash occurs. Such accidents commonly occur in California and other states given the presence of interstate highways, tourism, those visiting relatives and friends, and people conducting business in this and other states.

If you become the victim of an out-of-state accident, you face important decisions about where you can or should pursue your personal injury claim; The choices affect your rights to compensation and the time you have to sue.

Can You Sue in California?
The concept refers to a court’s power to enter judgments and orders against a party such as an at-fault driver. Typically, the residency of the parties or where the wreck occurs determines personal jurisdiction.

Out-of-state car accident victims who are injured in Los Angeles may sue here. Since the wreck happened in California, it allows courts in the state to assume personal jurisdiction; This is the case even if neither you nor the other parties live in California.

Courts in this state may exercise personal jurisdiction over an entity that is incorporated or organized as a limited liability company in California or that maintains its principal place of business in California.

Will California Law Apply?
Out-of-state crashes also raise the question of what state’s law applies; This depends upon whether the particular law is “substantive” or “procedural.”

Substantive Law
Substantive law defines and establishes the rights and duties of parties; By default, courts apply the substantive personal injury laws of the state where the crash occurred.

In a motor vehicle wreck case, statutes and other substantive laws define as unlawful driving or otherwise:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Texting while driving
  • Speeding
  • Unsafe movements
  • Following too closely
  • Failure to keep a proper lookout

Your rights as a car crash victim generally include compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, diminished capacity to earn, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.

Within the substantive law of negligence, you will find defenses involving the victim’s alleged negligence, meaning the choice of substantive law proves crucial to whether your negligence (if any) could reduce or bar your claim.

Four (4) states – Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia: follow pure contributory negligence; This rule bars your negligence claim if you were at fault in any way and that negligence contributed to the crash.

California observes the pure comparative negligence rule. If California substantive law applies, what you otherwise would recover in damages is reduced by the amount you are at fault.

Other states use a modified comparative negligence approach, requiring that the plaintiff’s negligence not exceed a certain percentage (approximately 50%), in order to recover anything.

Thirteen (13) states, (including New York, Florida, and Michigan), currently have a no-fault personal injury system, and motorists must carry personal injury protection insurance; This coverage pays a portion of medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic losses from an auto accident regardless of the fault of any of the drivers.

Procedural Laws
States and the federal government establish laws, rules, and regulations that govern how courts administer and resolve cases. Generally, courts apply the procedural law of the state where the lawsuit is brought. Procedural laws involve rules for:

  • Filing pleadings, such as complaints, answers, and petitions
  • Serving summonses, pleadings, and other court papers on pleadings
  • Conduct of hearings and trials
  • Statutes of limitations

A statute of limitations sets a deadline for you to file a lawsuit. In a car accident, the statute of limitations usually starts running from the date of the crash. Most states treat statutes of limitations as a procedural rule; Thus, where you file or can file the lawsuit proves critical to when you may or must file.

  • In California, you have two (2) years from the date of the accident to start the lawsuit.

Will You Be in Federal Court?
If you’re in an out-of-state crash, you face the possibility that you have a federal case. Federal courts may exercise “diversity jurisdiction” over car accident cases if the plaintiffs and defendants are all residents of different states and the amount of damages sought, claimed, or in question exceeds $75,000.

Federal courts apply the law of the state in which the federal district court is located to rule upon the liability of parties, the amount of damages, and the statute of limitations.

Insurance Matters
States that use the at-fault method for personal injury claims require drivers to carry liability insurance to compensate those harmed by their negligence. In California, the minimum liability coverages stand at $15,000 per person for injury or death and $30,000 per occurrence or accident for injury or death. If you’re injured by an out-of-state vehicle on a California road or highway, the vehicle’s liability insurance must contain these minimums.

Non-California drivers lacking these coverages may become uninsured or underinsured motorists, which may result in trigger coverage under your uninsured or underinsured motorist policies, unless the policy is deemed to conform to California law.

Even the required minimums may not adequately compensate you and call for underinsured motorist coverage. In these cases, your own automobile insurance pays damages to the extent the at-fault driver lacked insurance for them. (Uninsured or underinsured motorists are optional for you to carry.)

Best Car Accident Attorneys in Los Angeles

If you've been injured by another driver while visiting from out-of-state in Los Angeles, the last thing you'd want is to leave your claim in the hands of an insurance adjuster — don't hesitate to contact our dedicated team of experienced car accident attorneys at the Gutierrez Law Firm for a free case evaluation today.

At The Law Offices of Oscar Gutierrez, we have been representing car accident injury victims for many years. To date, our experienced and highly proficient team has helped thousands of clients throughout the State of California.

Navigating the insurance agencies and legal framework for car accident compensation can be complex; That’s why our bilingual lawyers are here to fight by our clients' side during each step of the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected, and you're compensated for the claim your injury and  deserve.

Don’t leave your medical bills and property damage to chance; instead, hire a law firm that can win you the maximum settlement. Contact us for a free consultation at 323-999-3500 or email us at at any time.