If you are a passenger and you sustain injuries in a car accident, you are typically entitled to file an insurance claim. In some cases, passengers can also file a personal injury lawsuit.
Typically, you file a claim or lawsuit against the driver whose negligence caused the wreck.
Sometimes, car passengers are involved in multi-vehicle collisions. If this occurs, you must ensure that you sue every potentially liable driver in the same suit.
What To Do If You Are a Passenger Involved in a Car Accident
While all accidents are unique, there are nevertheless some simple steps you should take if you are a passenger involved in a car wreck.
- Get insurance and contact details from relevant parties
- Seek prompt medical treatment
- Contact the police
- Consult an experienced personal injury attorney
Get insurance and contact details from relevant parties
Immediately following any car accident when you are a passenger in a vehicle, get the insurance policy information and contact details of all drivers involved.
Seek prompt medical treatment
You may not feel you have been injured severely enough to warrant medical attention after a car wreck, but it is always advisable to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Some common injuries – whiplash, for instance – do not manifest symptoms immediately.
If you ride in the ambulance at the accident scene, paramedics can assess you for immediate injuries and perform a physical check. They can also take you for further assessment at the nearest hospital.
Retain all documentation of your diagnosis information and medical expenses. You will need this to prove any subsequent insurance claim you file.
Contact the police
Even if the drivers of the vehicles involved in the accident do not call the police, you should contact the authorities yourself.
When the police arrive at an accident scene, they will document the details and create a police report. Additionally, the police officer can determine who was liable for the crash.
Consult an experienced personal injury attorney
When you file a personal injury claim, you will typically deal with an insurance company rather than an individual. By retaining an experienced personal injury attorney, you maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve for your injuries, losses, and any pain and suffering related to those injuries.
Focus on recovering from your injuries and allow a lawyer to deal with investigating your claim and negotiating with the insurer for a reasonable settlement. If necessary, an attorney can also help you file a lawsuit against the insurer if unable to reach an agreement for a settlement out of court.
Which Motorist Should You File a Claim Against?
Establishing who was at fault in a car wreck is not always straightforward. If a passenger does not observe the driving behaviors of all drivers involved in the accident, they will be unable to accurately determine fault.
It is often advisable to file a personal injury claim with your own auto insurance company, as well as against all drivers involved in the accident. In most states, motorists are legally required to carry auto insurance, including two components accounting for passengers:
- Bodily injury liability
- Property damage liability
Bodily injury liability
This type of auto insurance provides coverage for any injuries occurring due to an accident the insurer’s policyholder is responsible for. In most cases, passengers involved in car accidents can file a claim against this portion of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Bodily injury liability insurance typically covers:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages
- Legal fees
There are minimum limits in place in most states of bodily injury liability insurance – typically $25,000 per person – although motorists can buy coverage beyond these limits. Drivers are responsible for any coverage required beyond those insurance limits.
Property damage liability
Most states also require motorists to carry property damage liability insurance. If you are the passenger in a car accident and a laptop or valuable watch is destroyed, you could potentially file a claim against the property damage liability component of the other motorist’s insurance policy.
Do You Need to Prove Liability To Get Compensation?
Fortunately, passengers who sustain injuries in car wrecks are not obliged to prove liability to receive compensation. Very seldom does a passenger cause a car accident, so anyone sustaining injuries as a passenger is legally entitled to pursue compensation for accident-related injuries and damages.
How Much Compensation Could You Receive?
Several variables impact the value of any settlement you receive compensating you for injuries and/or damages sustained in a car accident in which you were a passenger. These include:
- Injuries: The scope and severity of your injuries and the extent of the associated medical costs are instrumental in determining how much compensation you will receive.
- Damages: Anyone also experiencing significant property damage is likely to receive a larger settlement.
- Financial losses: Lost wages and other financial losses can also drive up the value of a settlement for car accident injuries.
If you have been hurt in a car accident, auto accident loans may be a worthwhile option to consider while you pursue your settlement. Get the cash you need in 24 hours.
How To File An Insurance Claim Against Another Motorist
Before you file a claim against a driver’s insurance company, you should first speak with an experienced litigator. Most personal injury attorneys can quickly assess whether you have a strong case, and they can also advise you on the best course of action to take.
If a lawyer determines that filing a claim is worthwhile, the contingency nature of legal fees means you will pay nothing unless you win your case. An attorney can help you calculate the value of your injuries and damages. As well, a lawyer will establish if you have experienced any emotional pain and suffering related to your injuries, calculating a dollar value for these non-economic damages.
Once your attorney arrives at a settlement value, they contact the other party’s insurer through the claims department of the company. Your attorney will then deal with a claims representative, ideally negotiating a fair settlement compensating you fully for all injuries, losses, and damages.
An attorney can also help you file a lawsuit if you are not able to agree on a pre-court settlement.