How to File a Car Accident Claim as a Passenger

Posted on February 13, 2024 in Car Accidents

Drivers are not the only people with legal rights on the road, and passengers may be entitled to financial reimbursement from anyone responsible for the accident. If you are an injured passenger, you should not hesitate to seek compensation, mainly because the money to pay your damages comes from the insurance company and usually not the driver’s pocket.

You should reach out to a car accident lawyer right after the accident because time is of the essence. Your legal right to total compensation is at stake, and an attorney can ensure you receive the money you deserve.

Injured Passengers Have Legal Rights a Lawyer Can Protect

Every year, roughly half a million passengers suffer an injury in car accidents. The driver of the car and other drivers on the road owe the passenger the duty of care, and an injured passenger can sue either driver, depending on who was at fault for the accident. They have a legal right to total compensation for their injuries, although they will have to fight for it.

Injured passengers should always hire a car accident attorney to help them seek financial compensation, and it takes a fighter to overcome the insurance companies.

Common Injuries to Passengers in Car Crashes

Injuries to Passenger in a Car CrashPassengers can suffer serious and costly injuries in accidents. One of the most common injuries among car crash victims is whiplash. This occurs when the head and neck are forcefully jerked back and forth, causing strain on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck. Whiplash can result in severe pain, limited mobility, and even chronic conditions if left untreated.

Another common injury among passengers is broken bones. The impact of a car crash can subject passengers to extreme forces that can cause fractures in various parts of the body, such as the arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis. These injuries can be extremely painful and may require surgery and extensive rehabilitation to regain full functionality.

Passengers may also experience traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in car crashes. The force of the impact can cause the brain to collide with the skull, leading to concussions, contusions, or more severe forms of brain damage. TBIs can have long-term consequences such as memory loss, cognitive impairment, and behavioral changes.

Soft tissue injuries, neck and back injuries, spinal injuries, burns, and more can also happen to passengers in a collision. No matter what injuries you might have, always seek a medical professional and then call a car accident attorney near you.

Who Covers Your Injuries Depends on Who Was at Fault

First, you must determine which driver was at fault for the accident, and you will file a claim against the driver’s insurance company responsible for the accident. If both drivers bear part of the blame, you will file claims against each insurance policy in proportion to the fault.

You can also file a lawsuit against the driver if you suffered an injury in a single-car accident, where the driver may have been negligent in losing control of their car.

Fault for the car accident will be determined by which driver was negligent, and each driver will owe you the duty of care, the one in whose car you are riding and the one in the other vehicle. You will have to determine which driver did something unreasonable under the circumstances.

Negligence in a Car Accident Case

The following things are examples of negligence in a car accident case:

  • Sideswiping or veering into another car’s space because the driver did not correctly check their blind spots
  • Rear-ending the vehicle in front because the driver ignored the road
  • Running a red light or a stop sign, either on purpose or accidentally
  • Losing control of a car and hitting another because the driver was speeding
  • Hitting another vehicle because the driver did not allow for the proper following distance

Get Medical Treatment Right After the Accident

If you suffered an injury as a passenger, you will need to do most of the same things that a driver will have to do after a car accident. As in any personal injury case, your priority is your health. Whether your injuries are apparent at the scene of the accident or if you think that you are uninjured, you still need to see a doctor. You do not want hidden car accident injuries to worsen without medical treatment.

A doctor will examine you, run necessary tests, diagnose your injuries, and explain your prognosis. In the process, they will create treatment notes and medical records that detail your condition. You will use these medical records for your insurance claim or lawsuit.

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer to Protect Your Legal Rights

You should also contact an attorney to guide you through the legal process. Numerous complexities are involved, including multiple insurance companies who want to pass the buck off to another.

Your lawyer’s job is to represent you throughout the legal process and will investigate your accident and estimate your damages. They also protect you from the insurance company, which is in the way of your total financial compensation. You should hire a lawyer as soon as possible after your case to protect your legal rights.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Establishes What Happened in the Crash

One of the first things your lawyer will do is to investigate the car accident. They may start by asking you questions about what you remember and reviewing the accident report written by the police officer who arrived at the scene.

Then, your lawyer may interview witnesses, ask them what they saw, review pictures from the accident scene, or work with an accident reconstruction expert.

Your lawyer must begin their investigation shortly after the accident because car accident reconstruction cannot occur many months later. It can also be much harder to track down witnesses, and those you find may not remember what they saw.

You must Know How Much You Deserve in Compensation

Then, you need to know the value of your case before you file a claim. You need to demand a certain amount from the insurance company representing the damages you have suffered. Your lawyer will review your case and determine what you may be due.

Your car accident damages will include:

You Need a Strategy for the Legal Process

Your lawyer will determine the best strategy for you to recover the most possible financial compensation, and you will most likely begin working with the insurance companies to get a settlement. You can get your money quickly when you file an insurance claim instead of a lawsuit against the responsible driver.

Once you file the insurance claim, you must go through the legal process. The insurance company still needs to be persuaded of its driver’s liability, and your lawyer will include evidence to prove that the driver was responsible for the car accident.

You Have to Fight to Secure Adequate Compensation

The real fight often begins when you start talking money with the insurance companies, and there is likely a vast gulf between your position and theirs. They will make you an initial settlement offer, which will be very low compared to your actual damages.

Your lawyer will likely continue negotiations to get you more money. You do not have to take what the insurance companies offer because they are motivated to save money to increase their profits.

Eventually, you and the insurance companies may come closer to a settlement agreement, and most cases will settle without needing a trial. If they are not reasonable in settlement negotiations, you can always file a lawsuit against the responsible driver, which the insurance companies must defend.

There May Be Limited Insurance Coverage to Pay for All Damages

One of the challenges you may face is that the other driver has a certain amount of coverage that applies on a per-accident basis. You and the driver of the car you were in are filing a claim against the same policy, and there is only enough money to go around to pay for damages. Many people may be trying to get a slice of the same figurative pie, which can present difficulties for everyone who deserves financial compensation.

The Insurance Company May Even Try to Blame an Injured Passenger

Another challenge that you may face is that the insurance company may try to blame you for getting into the driver’s car in the first place. Suppose a passenger files a lawsuit against the drunk driver. In that case, the insurance companies may argue that the passenger assumed the risk of injury by choosing to be in a car with a driver who was possibly intoxicated. They may say the same thing if the passenger rode with someone they know was a poor driver.

Hopefully, you were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. If not, the insurance companies may argue that you were at fault and try to deny your claim or drastically reduce your settlement.

You can always fight back if the insurance companies unfairly blame you. If they deny your claim or find that you were partly to blame, you can let the jury determine the matter.

Do Not Fear Filing a Claim Against the Driver of the Car You Were In

File a Car Accident Claim as a PassengerYou should not hesitate to file a car accident claim, even if a friend or a family member was driving the car that you were riding in. Accidents like this are the exact reason why car insurance exists in the first place. The insurance company is responsible for paying the claim; money will not come from the driver’s pocket. If you do not file a claim because you do not want to offend the driver, you leave compensation on the table. However, whether you file a claim against the driver of the car you were in is a personal choice. If you have spousal coverage, you can file a claim if your spouse drives the vehicle.

Of course, the driver’s insurance rates will go up, but the increase pales compared to the damages you suffered in the car accident. You should not forgo what you are legally entitled to for any reason, and you need to take care of yourself and look after your self-interest.

Avoid Mistakes That Can Cost You Money

There are mistakes that you can make after a car accident. You should be careful about discussing the accident with anyone else, especially with the driver of the car you were riding in at the time of the crash. Also, avoid publicly mentioning the accident or posting on social media.

Then, you should only settle your claim after the insurance companies make you a reasonable settlement offer that pays for your damages. Otherwise, they are getting away with taking your legal rights away from you for less than they are worth. Hiring an experienced attorney can keep you from making a mistake.

You Do Not Pay a Retainer to a Car Accident Attorney

A car accident lawyer does not hand you a bill for their services at any point during the legal process. When you need an attorney quickly, it will not come at any immediate cost to you. A car accident lawyer does their job for a contingency fee that they only receive if you win your case, and they will receive a percentage of your car accident settlement or jury award. If there is no payment to you, there is no payment to your attorney.

Consult a Car Accident Lawyer Today

Matt Boatman Attorney for Car Accident

Matthew R. Boatman, Car Accident Lawyer

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming and confusing, but having a knowledgeable attorney on your side can help alleviate some of the stress and ensure your rights are protected.

A car accident lawyer can guide you through the legal process, handle negotiations with insurance companies, and fight for the compensation you deserve. They have the expertise to assess your case, gather evidence, and build a strong argument on your behalf. By hiring a car accident lawyer, you can focus on recovering from your injuries while they handle the legal complexities.

Don’t navigate the aftermath of a car accident alone. Contact a personal injury lawyer today to discuss your case and learn about your legal options. They will provide you with the guidance and support you need to move forward and recover from your injuries.