What Happens If I’m in an Accident Out Of State?

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: August 6, 2014

We all know that an accident and resulting personal injury can occur anywhere, anytime, but what if it happens outside of your home state?

In our experience with cases like these, we’ve found that most clients have been happy to hire an attorney in their home state. Here are the pros and cons to doing so:


  • Familiarity – Hiring an attorney in your home state gives you the advantage of feeling comfortable in your own environment. You might even know the attorneys in your community and trust that they will genuinely help and work hard for you.
  • Face-to-Face Interaction – If you hire an attorney in your home state, you can easily arrange several face-to-face meetings rather than phone calls or Skype meetings. This again adds to the comfort level of the situation, making it possible to clearly communicate what is best for your case.


  • Licensing – The attorney you hire in your home state will be able to work your case throughout the pre-litigation stages. In the event that your case goes to trial (in our firm, about 10% of cases go to trial) your hometown attorney may not be licensed to practice law in the state where you’ve been injured, so they will have to partner with an attorney willing to work with them from the other state, which may be challenging. Insurance companies may also see this as an advantage, since attorneys from the other state may not be there to help.
  • Fees – When the injury has occurred in another state, contingency fees must be split between your home state attorney and the out-of-state attorney. Although this may be confusing to you as a client, a good personal injury attorney will explain this process to you so that you feel comfortable and in the end, it will not cost you any additional money.

In summary:

  • If you live in Arizona and are vacationing in California and get injured, you can hire a personal injury attorney from Arizona to represent you in your personal injury claim in California and vice versa.

For more advice on hiring a personal injury attorney when you’ve been injured outside of your home state, be sure to listen to Episode #7 of the Zanes Law Talk Show.

Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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