If you're injured as a passenger in a car accident, you may wonder what to do next. There are a lot of emotional issues that come with being in a car accident, so you may not even be thinking about the financial elements, but eventually, you will have to consider that.
When you're hurt in a car accident, it can be expensive to deal with medical bills and also the other consequences, such as lost income when you have to take time off work.
The first thing to know is that if you are a passenger who's injured in a car accident, you do have legal rights to compensation in most cases.
One of the first considerations, after you're hurt in an accident, is who's liable. That means anyone whose behavior or decisions caused a crash.
Examples of liable parties in accidents can include:
- The drivers of the vehicles who were involved in the crash. This can include the other driver or the driver you were with.
- Employers of the driver or drivers at fault if the accident involved work or commercial vehicles.
- If the accident was because of defective car parts, the vehicle manufacturer.
- If an accident involves a drunk driver, the bar or restaurant that served the driver.
- Government agencies if they didn't fix a road that was unreasonably dangerous.
Injury Claims as a Passenger
If you're going to make a claim with an insurance company of any party, you have to show liability.
It can be sometimes difficult to determine liability because of the many factors that are part of an accident.
Depending on the state where you live, an insurance investigator might assign a percentage of fault if both drivers are somewhat responsible for the accident.
As a passenger, typically, you won't have any liability for an accident, meaning you could be compensated for your injuries no matter who is ultimately responsible for the accident.
If you're filing a claim under the insurance of the at-fault driver, this is called a third-party claim.
As a passenger, if both parties share in the blame for the accident, you might be able to make a claim against the insurance of both drivers.
If you live in a fault-based state, after you receive injuries and you reach what's considered a maximum medical improvement, then the case is considered to have come to a resolution. You may be able to work with an attorney to negotiate with the insurance companies of both drivers.
In some states, the guideline is described as no-fault. In these states, all drivers are required to have personal injury protection. If you're a passenger in a no-fault state, you can file a claim against the policy of the person driving you. Unless your injuries are very severe and meet a certain state threshold, you can't file a claim against the other driver's insurance.
What If You Don't Want to File a Claim Against the Driver's Insurance?
If you're in the car with someone, there's a high likelihood they're a family member, a friend or a loved one. You may be hesitant to file a claim against their insurance, but it's important to realize that you're not actually going against them financially. Instead, you're seeking compensation from their insurance company.
The person you're riding with doesn't have to deal with anything when you're seeking compensation-it's handled by their insurance company.
What About Your Own Insurance?
You might also be able to file a claim through your auto insurance or your medical coverage.
For example, if you have MedPay or PIP, it can be used to cover your medical expenses if you're hurt, even if it's as a passenger when someone else is driving.
You'll also be using your health insurance, but there are different guidelines on how this coverage works depending on your state and policy.
These situations can be more complicated if multiple passengers are injured. In that instance, there might be multiple claims filed against the insurance of the at-fault driver, and it's very easy for the value to exceed their coverage. Then, you have to settle for less than what your case might be worth.
Because it is complicated if you're hurt as a passenger, the best thing you can do is talk to an experienced attorney. They can go over the laws of your state and help you decide on the best course of action.