What To Do If You Were Injured As A Passenger In An Accident
Most people know what to do if they are the driver in an accident. But what if you were a passenger in another person’s vehicle?
How can you claim compensation to cover medical bills, recuperation, and loss of earnings?
This is often a very difficult situation, as it can feel like you are going after your friend or loved one to cover your costs. But surely they too will want to see you are fully supported following an accident. And this is exactly why they have insurance, so they can cover the important costs without having to reach into their own pockets.
Making a passenger injury claim after a car accident can be complicated. If you need help, we have a team of qualified attorneys who are highly experienced in dealing with passenger injury cases. Our lawyers handle these cases in a friendly way that ensures the best possible outcome for everyone involved, while securing the maximum compensation for our clients.
But where do you start when you are a passenger in a car accident? When do you need to contact a lawyer?
We will go through the basics here, starting with what to do when you are a passenger in a car accident, who is liable to cover your damages, and when you might want to think about contacting a lawyer.
What To Do When You Are A Passenger In A Car Accident
While being involved in a car accident can be disorienting and scary, it is important to follow the steps below.
1. Call 911
Except in the case of a minor fender bender, you should always start by securing the scene. Often the first thing to do is call 911 so they can dispatch an ambulance to help anyone who is injured, help remove cars and debris from the road, and take measures to prevent further accidents in the area.
it is important that an official police report is filed. You should record the number of that report, as you may need it later when making your claim.
2. Make A Record Of The Accident
Once everyone is safe and secure, and anyone who has been injured has been given the immediate support they need, you should make a record of what exactly happened during the accident, including taking photos at the scene if relevant. You should also record a statement of how you believe the accident occurred while the details are still fresh in your memory.
While this is something the driver of the car will probably take the lead on, you, as a passenger, should do this for yourself as well. The driver of the car is probably mostly concerned with recording evidence to show the other driver was at fault in the accident, so they can claim their damages on the other driver’s insurance.
The driver is seeing and recalling the details of the event from their perspective. You may have seen or noticed something showing the driver of the vehicle you were in is at fault. In this case, you need to record these details for yourself and include them in your statement to the police, as they may be important when it comes to making your own compensation claims.
3. Exchange Information And Talk To Witnesses
The drivers of the vehicles will need to exchange information in order to sort out insurance issues down the line. You should also take the information of both drivers to support you in making your own independent insurance claims if necessary.
You should also get contact information from any other witnesses to the accident. Again, while this is something the driver of the car should be doing, this is also something you should do, as you too may wish to contact the witnesses independently when pursuing your own claims.
4. Seek Medical Attention
If you have suffered a serious injury as the result of being a passenger in a car accident, you have probably already been seen by emergency services. But regardless of how minor or serious you think your injuries may be, you should follow up with your personal doctor.
Sometimes we can think that we are fine after a car accident, but our injuries are more serious than we think. This is most often the case with internal bleeding or head injuries, where we can feel fine at the time and symptoms only develop later.
It is easy for emergency services to miss signs of these types of injuries at the scene, especially if they are dealing with multiple injured parties or are receiving calls to rush off to other emergencies. It is worth following up with your doctor just to double-check that everything is fine.
Your doctor can also make a record of your injuries and link them to the car accident. When drivers and insurance providers are faced with liability claims, they often suggest the injuries are not as serious as described because they were not witnessed at the scene, or that you are making claims for injuries that happened at another time.
5. Gather Your Evidence
After speaking to your doctor, it is important to get the necessary documents together. These include:
- Police report number
- Details of the drivers and any witnesses to the accident
- Evidence related to the accident such as your own eyewitnesses statement and photos taken at the scene
- Medical reports recording the details of your injuries
- Bills for any medical, rehabilitation, or other expenses you have incurred
- Doctors’ recommendations and reports of any long-term problems caused by the accident
- Proof of loss of earnings if you have lost work as a result of the accident
Any documentation or bills related to the incident and its aftermath should be kept, just in case.
Who Is Liable And How To Make A Claim
Once you have decided to make a claim, you must then decide who your claim will be made against: the driver of the car you were in, the driver of the other car, or both.
Generally speaking, if a driver is found at fault for causing an accident, your claim should be made against their insurance company, regardless of which car they were driving. In some cases, both drivers are found at fault, in which case you should file your claim with both insurance companies.
In order to make your claim in these circumstances, you will need to send a letter to the insurance company with your demands and documentation. You should be able to show through your documentation:
- That the driver of the vehicle was responsible for the accident
- That you sustained your injuries as a result of the accident
Along with your financial costs, such as medical bills and loss of earnings, you can also claim compensation for pain and suffering, up to two to three times the amount of your direct financial costs.
You cannot make an at-fault claim against the driver of the car you were in if you are a member of the same household. You will be covered by another part of the driver’s insurance, and the type of compensation you can receive will be different. You should consult the driver’s policy document for details.
If no one was found at fault in the accident, you can still file a claim with the driver of the car you were in. They very likely have no-fault insurance, which is required in most states, specifically to cover this type of cost. It is important to note that with a no-fault claim, you can only claim financial costs, such as medical bills and loss of earning. You cannot claim additional compensation for pain and suffering.
In order to make a claim, you should send a letter outlining your demands and showing evidence of the injuries sustained during the car accident and the costs subsequently incurred to the insurance company.
Normally, if you make a no-fault claim against the driver of the car you were in, you cannot also make a no-fault claim against the other driver. But if the insurance of the driver of the car you were in does not fully cover the costs of your injuries, you can go to the insurance provider of the other driver to secure further compensation.
When You Should Contact A Lawyer
While passenger injury claims can be easily resolved with insurance companies, there are situations when things can become complicated. In these circumstances, you may benefit from the assistance of a lawyer.
Examples of the types of issues that might require the assistance of a lawyer include:
- When the driver of a vehicle is claiming they were not at fault in the accident, but you believe they were at fault.
- When multiple people were injured in the accident. Insurance policies have limits, and when multiple victims are making claims, those limits are easily reached. A lawyer can be necessary to ensure you get fair compensation.
- On some rare occasions, insurance companies may claim you were in some way at fault in the accident, and therefore, they are not liable for your compensation. For example, they may claim you distracted the driver or knowingly got into the car with an intoxicated driver.
- The level of damages you claim is high enough that the insurance company employs a variety of different tactics, generally known as bad faith tactics, in order to avoid making a payout to you.
In all of these circumstances, you could benefit from the assistance of a lawyer, specifically a lawyer experienced with insurance disputes.
Most people expect insurance companies to play fair. In return for the premiums their clients pay year-in-year-out, we expect they will make fair payouts when valid claims are made. The fact of the matter is that insurance is big business. They protect their bottom line by making the minimum payouts possible.
It can be easy to be bamboozled by insurance companies that have the resources and experience to defend their decision not to pay out on a claim. Insurance adjusters can make their denial seem reasonable and legal, when it is neither. A lawyer with experience in insurance disputes will push back and help you to win just compensation.
In most cases, you should get your own lawyer rather than relying on the lawyer of the driver of the car you were in. Get your own attorney to protect your rights. If both you and the driver are seeking damages from the at fault driver, you may be competing for compensation from the same limited insurance funds available.
You want a lawyer who will always put your interests first.
After the trauma of being involved in an accident, dealing with passenger liability cases can be complex and time-consuming. If you encounter any bumps in the road during the insurance claims process, you can benefit from contacting an experienced insurance disputes lawyer.
We have a team of trusted lawyers who can help. Call today and speak to a lawyer on your first call. We never charge for initial consultations.