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Car Accident While Visiting Tampa From Out-of-State?
Car Accident While Visiting Tampa From Out-of-State?

Car Accident While Visiting Tampa From Out-of-State?

Visiting out of state can be an exciting adventure, but unexpected events can always pop up to dampen your trip. Imagine taking a road trip or visiting another state and getting into an out-of-state car accident. If you get injured in another state by a negligent driver, how do you go about filing a personal injury claim?

In this article, we’ll give you all the information you need to know if you were involved in a Tampa Car Accident while visiting from another state, or if you were involved with an out of state driver.

The Basics: Do You File a Claim in Tampa or in Your Home State?

Where do you file a claim after getting into an out-of-state accident? In the state the accident occurred, or in your residing state?

Here’s The short answer: if you are from out of state and get into an accident in Tampa, you’ll file a claim in Tampa. Now let’s get into the details of why. A court needs jurisdiction, or legal authority, to make a ruling on a personal injury or other civil matter, regardless of where the parties live (e.g., out of state or in a different city or county).

So if one of the people involved in the car accident is from Tampa, the court has jurisdiction over that person. Now, this is assuming the at-fault or negligent party is the person who lives out of state (since you’re the one filing a claim for damages). Since you were involved in a Tampa car accident, Florida courts now also have jurisdiction over you (since you got hurt in their state).

Court Jurisdiction Further Explained: Minimum Contacts With The State

How Does Out of State Car Accident Jurisdiction Work?

As tourism has always been and always will be a global destination for people from other states and countries, roadways will continue to be congested with locals and visitors alike. Having so many unfamiliar drivers on the roadway, or even inexperienced drivers, adds to the already dangerous situation of traffic congestion in Tampa.

Why is all of this event relevant? Well unsurprisingly, a lot of car accidents involve drivers who are from another state or country. Drivers in Tampa who are here for the first time, unfamiliar with the roadways, and trying to figure out their route while driving, can pose a risk on the road and have a higher probability of getting into an accident.

So how do we determine if a Florida court has jurisdiction over someone who doesn’t live in Florida? There are several ways to find out whether a Florida court has any legal authority over the person in question (the one who’s from out of state). First, let’s discuss Minimum Contacts.

Minimum Contacts is when a person has some sort of connection or a minimum amount of contact with the state. If The person has no minimum contacts with the state, Examples of minimum contact include:

  • Owning property in Tampa (or elsewhere in Florida)
  • Owning or operating a business in Florida
  • Driving inside of Florida’s state lines, if a personal injury case becomes relevant (i.e.,the driver was injured or injured someone else)

Basically, minimum contacts asks the questions: does this person have minimum ties of the state for the state’s courts to have legal jurisdiction over them? Intrastate laws differ, and most states protect their residents. That is, if you live in Georgia, you may have protections from Florida laws, unless you have minimum contacts with Florida.

Can I File a Claim in My Own State if I Was Involved in a Tampa Car Accident?

Okay, now let’s discuss the two divisions of out-of-state accidents in Tampa. Either you’re a Tampa resident who gets injured by an out-of-state driver, or you’re a visitor who gets injured by a Tampa driver.

If you live in Tampa and get injured by a non-native Florida driver, that driver needs to have minimum contacts with Florida in order for you to file a personal injury claim with them in Tampa. If the driver who injured you has no minimum contacts with the state, you need to seek legal advice from a trusted Tampa car accident lawyer.

What if I’m From Out of State and Need to File a Claim Against a Tampa Driver?

If you’re from out of state and got injured by a Tampa driver you can file a claim in Florida, but this may be annoying since you live in a different state. Still, contact a Tampa personal injury lawyer to get advice on the best way to handle your case.

Establishing Liability Involving Drivers from Out-of-State

Front vacations to truck drivers crossing state lines and visitors who rent cars, out of state drivers are all over Tampa. For these newcomers, navigating I-4 or US 301 can be a stressful and dangerous move that creates a higher risk for car collisions.

Many areas of Tampa and the Hillsborough area have busy intersections with multiple lanes of traffic and can be difficult for unfamiliar drivers to navigate. A lot of people may not understand how express lanes work in Tampa (even some of those who live here).

In addition to that complication, there’s another glaring issue when we’re talking about accidents involving out of state drivers: insurance. While Florida is a no-fault state (meaning each driver’s own insurance will cover their damages up to a certain amount through PIP), what happens if the accident is severe and the damages exceed your policy limit? PIP exists because Florida lawmakers have already considered the out of state accident scenario and thus have created laws to anticipate such accidents, leading to the requirement of PIP. But again, PIP will only cover so much. If your damages exceed your PIP limit, you need to pursue a third-party lawsuit against the out-of-state driver, especially if you sustained catastrophic injuries that will have a substantial impact on your life with long term consequences.

The out of state driver would use their own insurance, either through the rental car they are driving or with their insurance company in their home state. The problem with that is that all states have different insurance requirements, so an out of state driver’s policy might be insufficient to cover your damages, and vice versa. They might not even have insurance, especially if they’re a tourist or a visitor from another country.

Tampa’s Long-Arm Statute

Tampa laws have protections in place for its drivers. The long-arm state basically gives Floridian courts the right to summon any out-of-state driver who was involved in an accident in Florida. So, if you are from out of state and were in a Tampa car accident, you are legally required to appear in court here if you get summoned by a judge.

If multiple parties were involved in the accident, this can become a complex web of establishing liability and damage recovery.

What Should I Do if I’m Injured in a Car Accident While on Vacation in Florida?

So far we’ve primarily focused on what happens if you’re a tampa resident who gets into an accident with an out of state driver. But what about if you’re from out of state and get into an accident in Tampa? What should you do?

No matter where you get into an accident, there are some basic and vital steps to follow immediately after the collision.

1) get medical help ASAP. If your injuries are serious or life threatening (e.g., you’re bleeding profusely, have severe burns, deep lacerations, can’t feel a limb, have a crushed limb, or any sort of head injury) call an ambulance.

2) Assess the situation while you wait for EMTs to arrive on scene.

3) remove any obstacles or debris from the accident that might be in the middle of the road and potentially cause another crash.

4) If there is imminent danger lingering from the crash results (e.g., your car is smoke or on fire), get away from the hazardous area, as inhaling too much smoke or being near a car on fire that could potentially explode is extremely dangerous.

5) start gathering evidence right away. Take pictures and videos of everything. The accident scene, your injuries, all property damage, the surrounding area of the accident, and anything else relevant to the accident.

6)Notify your insurance company of the accident

7) Contact an attorney as soon as possible. Only a lawyer who is certified to practice in Florida can handle a personal injury claim for a Tampa car accident. This point leads us to our next area of discussion where we find many people have questions after getting into an out of state accident.

Should I Use a Local Attorney if I’m Injured in a Car Accident While on Vacation in Tampa?

As experienced Tampa personal injury lawyers who have handled hundreds of car accident cases, we’ve gotten this question a lot from people visiting the Tampa Bay area and getting into an accident. There are several different ways to go about this, but ultimately, only a lawyer that has a license to practice in Florida can handle this particular accident case, since it happened in Tampa.

As you were injured in Tampa, your accident is not subject to Florida laws, so it makes sense to hire a Tampa car accident lawyer who is familiar with the local laws and how legal proceedings work here. You might have a trusted attorney in your home state, but they won’t be able to represent you or handle your case in Tampa.

If you are at fault for the accident while visiting Tampa, your insurance company will most likely provide you with a personal injury attorney. However, if you were injured by a negligent driver while visiting Tampa, you may not be permitted to hire an attorney from your state because they only have a license to practice in that state. Out-of-state attorneys may not be as familiar or knowledgeable about the laws around personal injury in Florida, so your best bet is to hire an experienced and knowledgeable Tampa personal injury lawyer who knows how to best proceed for this type of unique accident case.

What Damages Can I Claim in an Out-Of-State Accident?

Generally speaking, if you were injured while visiting Tampa from out of state, you can claim the following damages for financial compensation (and perhaps more, depending on the severity of your injuries).

  • Medical Costs
  • Property Damage
  • Lost Income and Other Losses from Missed Work
  • Travel and Lodging Expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • And more

Contact A Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Our Tampa personal injury lawyers know the laws of Florida and the intricacies of filing a car accident claim. No matter where you’re from, we’ll be able to help you get the compensation you need.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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