There’s no denying that being a passenger in a car accident is a frightening experience.
In addition to the surge of emotions felt during and after the wreck, there’s a good chance you’ve suffered some type of injury.
If you have become injured as a passenger in a car accident, then it’s very important to take the right steps to ensure that you are compensated for any medical bills and lingering issues.
Here’s everything that you need to know about filing a personal injury claim as a passenger in a car accident.
The First Thing You Should Do After a Car Wreck
We have covered the 10 steps you should take after a car accident, but the most important thing to do if you were injured in a car accident is to seek medical attention.
This goes for both the driver and any passengers. Seek medical attention right away to make sure that you’re okay. Though it’s obviously important to worry about your claim and the insurance company, it’s vital that you seek medical attention first.
And remember to follow up any immediate medical care with a visit to your primary care physician for an aftercare checkup.
Can You File a Passenger Injury Claim after an Auto Accident?
The short answer is YES.
You can file a personal injury claim if you were a passenger in a car accident.
In fact, filing such a claim is usually easier for passengers. The reason is that you don’t have to prove liability like the driver of the vehicle. Of course, the driver of the vehicle must still go through the normal process of proving liability with their claim.
If the accident involved two vehicles, the driver must prove that the other driver was liable to file a personal injury claim.
They must also prove their injuries.
It’s almost always the case that one of the two drivers involved in a two-vehicle accident will be proven liable.
Accidents involving a single car are different. The driver is almost always liable.
For example, a driver that hits a tree was probably distracted or driving erratically. Of course, there are some exceptions, such as a deer suddenly jumping out into the road.
What we’re trying to say is that while the driver of a vehicle in a car accident must prove liability (or rather lack of liability), this isn’t an issue for any passengers involved.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can help you throughout the entire process and get you the compensation you desire.
How to File a Passenger Personal Injury Claim
There are both similarities and differences between how a passenger injury claim and a normal injury claim are filed.
The most important difference is that the passenger will file the claim against both of the drivers involved in the accident.
In a single-car accident, they will only file against the driver involved.
So, what does this mean for you?
For starters, it means that as a passenger in a car accident you should get insurance information for all drivers involved.
Getting insurance information for both drivers allows you to file a passenger in a car accident claim with both insurance companies.
Like everything else, there are exceptions to this rule.
The most obvious is if one of the drivers was in no way liable for the accident.
An example is a driver that is rear-ended.
If you as a passenger are in the lead car, you usually wouldn’t file a claim against the driver of that car. If you as a passenger are in the rear car, you usually wouldn’t file a claim against the driver of the lead car. The fact is that the rear driver was most likely liable.
Before your personal injury claim case can be settled and compensation rewarded, you must complete your medical treatment.
What Usually Happens in a Passenger Accident Claim?
Car accidents involving two drivers are usually settled fairly painlessly.
As a passenger in the wreck, the key is to stay patient. Once you have sought medical attention and filed your claim, all that you can do is wait until the claim is settled.
Once again, it’s essential to file your lawsuit against both drivers.
This ensures that the insurance of the driver eventually deemed responsible goes towards your claim.
Only filing a claim against one driver often has negative results.
For instance, what if the driver you didn’t sue is actually deemed responsible?
You probably won’t receive the compensation you deserve.
Another factor to keep in mind is your relation to the driver of the car that you were riding in when you got into the car accident.
If you are related to the driver, or even if you simply live with them, you might not be eligible to pursue a claim against that driver.
Luckily, this usually means that you are considered covered under that driver’s insurance policy, meaning you will receive the compensation that you deserve anyways.
What Happens When Neither Side Wants to Settle?
One scenario that happens fairly often in a two-car accident is that neither side wants to settle with the injured passenger.
Usually this happens when the insurance companies of both drivers disagree with the liability of the drivers involved.
For example, one insurance company might consider their driver at 25 percent fault and the other driver at 75 percent fault.
An issue arises when the other insurance company believes the opposite. That their driver is the one at 25 percent fault and the other driver is at 75 percent fault.
Splits in fault like this make your personal injury claim as a passenger in a car accident much more difficult than a liability assessment of 50/50.
The key here, once again, is to be patient.
When suing for your personal injury claim, you should expect the proceedings to take time.
Though your settlement might be delayed, you’ll be rewarded with it eventually.
What Happens When There Are Multiple Passenger Injuries?
There are a lot of specific scenarios that can throw a wrench in your personal compensation claim as a passenger in a car wreck.
One of the most common is that there were multiple passengers involved in the accident that were injured.
This can be multiple passengers in just a single car or passengers in both cars.
The reason this brings up a problem is that the negligent driver’s insurance will only cover up to a certain value.
If the personal injury claims of all the passengers is more than this value limit, the passengers will have to settle for less to get some form of compensation.
In other words, there is a total amount that can be awarded.
Any passengers filing a car accident claim must take their award from this same total amount.
Of course, disagreements might erupt.
When passengers disagree about the amount of compensation each should get, a whole new issue arises. The passengers must then file suits against each other if they hope to receive their desired amount.
Filing a Claim Through Your Own Car Insurance
The most common course of action as a passenger in a car accident is to file an injury claim with the insurance providers of the drivers involved.
However, there is another option.
Though it’s must less common, it’s also possible to file a personal injury claim through your own car insurance company, even if your vehicle wasn’t involved in the accident.
There are pros and cons to doing this.
The pros are that the claim is settled quickly and efficiently. You will probably be given money to pay your medical bills.
The con is that the cost of your policy might go up in the future. It’s also likely that your insurance has limits on the amount they will pay out to you.
Whether or not you can even file a claim through your own car insurance, depends on the specifics of your policy.
It usually requires that you have either PIP or MedPay on your policy.
That’s why we always recommend buying a car insurance policy with PIP or MedPay if you can afford to do it. They will usually take care of any medical bills you incur while in a vehicle accident, thereby limiting your need to worry.
The Importance of the Right Car Accident Lawyer
Filing a personal injury claim as a passenger in a car accident can be a long and tedious process.
Though you can file the claim and complete the associated legal footwork yourself, it’s usually a much better idea to hire a professional.
The right car accident lawyer can help you file your claim quickly and efficiently.
They will make sure everything is in order so that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Using a car accident lawyer is particularly important when someone was injured in the car accident. Life insurance companies usually go heavy on the defense in this situation.
You need a professional on your side if you hope to receive car accident personal injury compensation.
Contact Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC.
If you are looking for a car accident lawyer contact Hutchison & Stoy today.
We are experienced car accident lawyers in Fort Worth, Texas with specific experience filing personal injury claims for passengers in automobile wrecks.
Call us at (817) 820-0100 or submit a free online case evaluation.
We’re here to help you receive the compensation you deserve as an injured passenger in a car accident.