Do I need a lawyer in the same state as my motorcycle accident?
Motorcycle Crash Attorney
Colorado Biker Lawyer: Dianne Sawaya
Generally, your attorney should be licensed in your state of residence. So if you’re in a motorcycle accident in your home state, you should absolutely contact a lawyer who’s licensed there. But what about if you’re traveling through another state and are involved in an accident there? That’s where things get a little trickier.
In that situation, you should still contact a local personal injury attorney licensed in your state to help you through the process, but it might also be necessary to enlist the services of an attorney licensed in the state in which the accident took place. Your at-home lawyer can work in conjunction with the out-of-state one to ensure that all the specific local and state laws, regulations, and processes are handled in the correct manner.
Before you even decide whether or not you need an out-of-state lawyer, you should first determine if your motorcycle accident warrants a call to a lawyer in the first place. This all depends on the particular incident and the extent of damage that was caused. For a simple fender-bender or light cosmetic damage, hiring a lawyer is probably not necessary. These are situations that can typically be handled by the individuals involved and their insurance companies.
There are two big red flags indicating the need for an attorney: 1) when there are personal injuries involved, and 2) when the fault/liability is unclear. You’d be wise to seek legal counsel in either of these situations. Whether or not you live in the state the accident occurred, you’re probably going to want at least one lawyer by your side to help you navigate those kind of dicey waters.
One of the other issues to consider in these types of situations is whether or not you plan on suing the other person involved in the accident. If you’re going to sue someone for personal injuries/damages, you need to do it in the location that has jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is just a fancy way of identifying the location of the court that has the legal authority to make a ruling on a given case. For example, if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident in your home state of Colorado, you couldn’t take the other driver to court in Ohio (or anywhere other than the place in which the accident occurred).
Let’s say you’re on vacation in Florida and are involved in an accident where the other driver is clearly at fault. You may return home at any time, but if you plan on suing the other driver, you’re going to have to do it in Florida where the accident happened. Also, you’re likely going to have to appear in-person in court in Florida when/if the case makes it to trial.
In summation, unless the accident is minor and insignificant to all parties involved, it’s probably best to contact a personal injury attorney in your area as your first step. That way, he or she can help guide you through the specifics of the particular accident in which you may be involved.