Every day across the United States, more than 6,500 people on average suffer injuries in road accidents. If you have recently joined their ranks as a passenger, you will naturally have concerns. One of the biggest will have to do with medical payments. When it comes to making good on your medical and hospital bills, who will be financially responsible?
Fortunately, car accident passengers themselves rarely carry any blame. Unless you deliberately distracted the driver or yanked the steering wheel out of his hands, all liability will rest with the person who was driving the responsible vehicle. While you needn’t worry about your own fault, however, you still need to prove your case, and that’s where things could get tricky.
A Passenger’s Personal Injury Claim
If you intend to call a lawyer and seek legal reparations for harm suffered as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident, there are some things that you will need to prove. The first concerns liability. If your mishap involved only a single car, then the fault most likely lies with the driver of that vehicle. If two or more vehicles had an involvement, it is still more than likely that only one of the drivers was at fault. When you file an injury claim, how will you know which person that is, and how are you going to prove it?
To get yourself off to an advantageous start, it is vital that you or a representative gather the insurance information of every driver that played a role in your accident, regardless of whether they were or were not at fault. You or the attorney who represents you will then need to gather evidence by:
- Taking clear and detailed photographs of the accident scene, preferably at the time that the mishap occurred.
- Interviewing any witnesses.
- Reviewing police reports.
- Obtaining statements from all parties concerned.
You can be certain that all involved insurance companies will follow the steps outlined above. If you want to be sure of getting the fair treatment that you know you deserve, it helps to hire a personal injury attorney with experience in conducting in-depth accident investigations. While the insurers are hoping to protect their bottom lines, your attorney will investigate the accident with only your best interests in mind.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Once you and your lawyer have pinpointed the at-fault driver, you as an injured passenger have full legal rights to file a claim against his or her insurance policy. This will allow you to receive monetary compensation for your medical expenses as well as for pain, suffering and lost wages. If multiple drivers involved share a percentage of responsibility, you have a right to file for compensation from all. However, the amount paid by each at-fault driver’s insurer will normally equate to only the percentage at which that driver is found to have been at fault. In no case will you receive more than your claim’s total value.
If you are related to the at-fault driver, you may be unable to file a third-party personal injury claim, especially if you and the driver share a residence. In cases like these, the driver’s policy is likely to cover you already.
Problems You Might Face with Your Personal Injury Suit
As your case progresses, you’ll see that the total number of passengers in the accident vehicle with you could start to make a difference. You and the others could find yourselves in need of splitting the compensation among yourselves. Unless the guilty driver carries adequate insurance, your portion of the damages could prove to be quite low.
You may also run into problems if the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier should choose to delay your settlement. This can happen when two or more insurance companies clash on the issue of liability. The infighting could drag on interminably, and it will frequently require the intervention of a skilled personal injury attorney to force a satisfactory resolution.
Of course, if your own actions as a passenger should prove to have played any part in causing the accident, you may have little to no recourse. In fact, if someone has died in the accident because of your behavior, you could face manslaughter charges or worse.
Getting Help From Your Own Insurers
In addition to filing claims against the at-fault drivers or vehicle owners, a passenger also has the option of turning to his or her own personal insurance. Car insurance will often help with your medical bills, and its uninsured or underinsured portion may have your back if the at-fault driver’s coverage is either insufficient or nonexistent. Your health policy will also help with your medical bills, although the amount that it does cover will likely reduce the size of any settlement you may subsequently receive.
If you have suffered injury as a passenger in an auto accident, call Weiner Law Group at 702-202-0500 to discuss your options. Every case is different, and our personal injury attorneys will be glad to speak with you about your case and help you reach a satisfactory resolution.