Summer is just around the corner. Maybe you’re going far away, maybe staying closer to home, but either way, it’s time for that much-needed vacation. Whether you rent a car or take your own, it’s important to know what to do should you find yourself in a car accident on vacation, far away from home.
While vacations should be all about having fun, it’s important to remember that if you’re behind the wheel, driving in an unfamiliar place (or even an unfamiliar country,) there’s a possibility you may find yourself in a car accident.
According to the CDC, 20-50 million people are injured in motor vehicle crashes each year, worldwide, and nearly half of all medical evacuations back to the US from other countries are the result of personal injuries from a car crash. So, have fun on your summer vacation, but remember to be cautious when operating a vehicle.
What to know before getting behind the wheel
- Educate yourself on local traffic laws and driving procedures of the country in which you’ll be driving
- Make sure you know how to properly operate your vehicle, especially if renting something you don’t often drive
- Drive safely (take a taxi or Uber if you’re planning on drinking while out)
- Opt out of riding a motorcycle, or wear a helmet if it’s the only option
- Buckle up and ensure children are properly secured in car seats
- Avoid overcrowded or top-heavy buses and vans if relying on public transportation
- Be extra alert when crossing the street, taking special note if you’re in a country where cars drive on the “wrong” side of the road
Following these precautions can help decrease your risk of personal injury due to a vehicle-related accident. However, should you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to know what to do, regardless of what city, state, or country you’ve chosen to visit.
Follow the basics
Should you find yourself in a car accident on vacation, it’s important to follow these rules of thumb regardless of how far away from home you are. Call the police to come to the scene and prepare an accident report. Collect relevant information from other the driver(s) involved such as insurance information, license plate number, contact information, and the make, model, and VIN of the other car(s). If there were any witnesses to the accident, you should collect their contact information as well.
Should medical attention be required, seek it immediately. Don’t wait until you return home from your trip. Consider going to the emergency room after an accident, whether you feel totally fine or not to ensure there aren’t any hidden injuries. Make sure you document everything and receive proper documentation from the medical staff treating you.
Whether you’re operating your own vehicle or using a rental car, you’ll need to contact your own insurance company to file a claim. At this point, it can be helpful to consult with a personal injury attorney to get advice on crafting a statement for the insurance company that can’t be used against you to potentially decrease compensation.
If you find yourself in need of another vehicle on vacation
If the extent of the damage from your car accident leaves your current vehicle inoperable, remember that a replacement vehicle may be covered by your insurance, or, if the accident is the other party’s fault, it could be covered by their insurance. Make sure to ask the at-fault driver’s insurance company and/or your own insurance company about rental car coverage.
For those who need to rent a car out-of-pocket, make sure to hold onto all your receipts for potential reimbursement once your claim is settled.
Engage a lawyer to help with differing insurance laws
Because each state sets their own insurance laws, you may encounter laws in the state where your accident occurred that are completely different than what you’re familiar with at home. An attorney can assist you in navigating out-of-state laws to ensure you get the compensation you’re entitled to receive.
Once all your bases are covered, don’t forget you’re still on vacation. Relax and enjoy your remaining time away knowing you’ve engaged an attorney who will not only work with your insurance company but will provide you with personalized attention to quickly resolve your claim. If you’re currently experiencing this situation, contact The Patterson Cozzo Law Firm to schedule a free initial consultation.