A car accident can have debilitating effects from which one must recover physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. These crashes can have many consequences, including property damage, injuries, and even fatalities.
The recovery process can seem daunting and prolonged, but many car accident victims deserve compensation for any damages they suffered. Drivers and passengers have the legal right to recover for injuries, damages, and other losses when another party caused an accident.
A passenger who sustains damages or injuries from a car accident must go through a legal process just like the driver to ensure they receive all compensation they deserve from the liable parties.
Continue reading to learn more about your rights as a passenger after an accident.
Vehicles have many safety features to ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers. These include blind-spot alerts, lane departure warnings, automatic braking, airbags, etc. All of these features help prevent a collision from happening and minimize the severity of injuries.
Some additional features include:
The protections seek to lessen the likelihood and severity of injuries, but injuries still occur to passengers despite the use of these features, and many injuries are life-altering.
A car accident can occur for many reasons. Distracted driving is a significant cause of many traffic accidents across the country, with distractions killing nine people daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other causes of crashes include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, or driving when one is too tired, possibly due to long hours at school or work.
There are external causes of car accidents, as well. These include inclement weather, medical emergencies, faulty roadways, vehicle defects, etc. Whatever the reasons, accidents still occur and can have debilitating effects and lead to various injuries.
Awareness of the various contributing factors to a car accident is crucial because you and your attorney need solid proof of liability to win total financial compensation after an accident.
As with the vehicle’s driver, a passenger reserves the right to file a claim to recover any losses they received. This claim will generally come in the form of an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. An injury lawsuit is a civil action an injured individual takes against the individual or party liable for the accident through negligence or misconduct.
Evidence against the liable party will be necessary to file a claim. Presenting more concrete evidence, including pictures of the accident and damages, witness statements, etc., increases the chance of receiving a fair settlement amount.
Some additional documents needed are transcripts of the medical procedures performed, transportation costs, property damage value, and lost income. Evidence will help the attorney calculate total compensation to demand from the liable party’s insurer.
After a passenger suffers an injury while riding in the liable driver’s vehicle, the passenger’s attorney will contact that driver’s insurer to make a claim. If a different driver causes the accident, the passenger’s attorney will contact that particular driver’s insurer. If more than one driver is liable, including the driver with whom the passenger is riding, the passenger has the right to file claims against all the at-fault drivers’ insurers.
Passengers can recover the same damages that a driver will seek to recover. Having a lawyer to handle claims and communication with the insurance companies from the start is highly recommended and beneficial for passengers to receive full financial recovery after an accident. The attorney will signal to the insurers that the passenger plans to pursue financial compensation and prevent mistakes that jeopardize the claim.
Every vehicle accident has a unique set of circumstances; what damages are available depends upon the specific circumstances and the severity of the passenger’s injuries. Specifically, as an injured passenger, here are a few of the contributing factors that will determine a settlement amount:
The amount of money lost from being out of work due to the injuries from the accident, as well as estimated future lost earnings.
Medical costs include the combined cost of both present and future medical treatment needed for physical recovery from your injuries..
A disability rating determines whether the sustained injuries will prevent the passenger from returning to their employment. Some injuries can be catastrophic, leaving victims with lifelong impairments that affect their professional and personal lives.
Pain and suffering damages aim to compensate an injured accident victim for the intangible effects of their injuries. Many injuries can cause severe and chronic physical pain. They can also result in emotional distress, PTSD, and other mental injuries. Passengers deserve compensation for the non-economic losses they experienced due to their injuries.
Loss of consortium is a claim that a spouse or partner of the accident victim usually presents. Loss of consortium is to help them recoup for loss of companionship and loss of elements of a romantic relationship, including sexual relations.
Punitive damages do not repay the victim for specific losses. Instead, they aim to punish a defendant for particularly unacceptable or intentional conduct to ensure they will not cause a similar accident in the future. These damages are only available if a case goes to trial.
Your car accident lawyer will carefully consider these factors before making a demand for compensation.
After a vehicle accident, a passenger should seek medical treatment for any injuries as soon as possible.
Prompt medical care is a crucial first step for several reasons:
Once your health is stable enough, your next step should be contacting a car accident lawyer to evaluate your options. Hiring an attorney will help you easily navigate the process of filing a lawsuit, negotiating with an insurance company, and presenting your case to a judge or jury at trial.
Some accidents may involve multiple passengers. This can affect the amount of money that each passenger can receive because the driver’s insurance company does have a monetary limit for each accident. As a result, each passenger may receive lower offers than desired. The assistance of a car accident lawyer can work on behalf of each passenger to mitigate the policy limits of the driver’s insurer. It is still always worth it to seek as much compensation as possible for your losses.
A passenger must identify who is responsible for the accident to receive compensation for their damages from the appropriate parties. Sometimes, there can be more than one liable person or party. An experienced car accident attorney will help determine who was negligent. Potentially responsible parties in a car accident may include:
In some cases, the person driving the car the passenger is riding in is negligent and responsible for the accident. In these cases, the driver tends to be someone the passenger knows, like a friend, acquaintance, family member, etc. A familiar driver can easily make a situation emotionally tricky, but the passenger still has the legal right to file a claim against their insurer. Fortunately, a claim will be against the driver’s insurance company and not against the driver personally.
Another driver may be responsible or share liability for the accident. This driver’s insurance company should cover the passenger’s losses when that happens. If a passenger suffers an injury in a multi-vehicle accident where more than one driver is liable, this can lead to multiple insurance claims.
Aside from drivers, companies can also be liable.
These types of cases usually include:
The main objectives for any victim following a car accident is to recover from their injuries and seek monetary damages. Medical treatment can be slow-going at first, especially if you have severe or catastrophic injuries. It is best to wait until your injuries fully present themselves before you begin the claim process. Waiting to heal fully or until you know your complete prognosis will affect the time it takes to resolve your case.
While you recover, your attorney will review the case details, including the police report, gather evidence, determine liability, calculate damages, and negotiate the maximum settlement for the victim. The attorney will negotiate a settlement and fight for the victim in civil court if the insurance company cannot make a fair offer.
There is no definitive amount of time that each case takes. Some claims can take months and even years to settle or litigate. Working with an experienced car accident attorney can help you understand your rights and may cut down on delays or stall tactics from the insurance company.
Car accidents can be horrific tragedies for the passengers involved, as they are out of control in a vehicle. Unfortunately, passengers suffer serious injuries in crashes every day, and many of them do not know where to turn.
First, get professional medical care for all your injuries. Next, contact a car accident lawyer for professional legal assistance. Never speak with insurance companies in detail or accept any settlement amount until you have a lawyer guiding your case.
Whether physical injuries, property damage, disabilities, or fatalities occur, crash victims must know how to receive compensation and begin the recovery process. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area to learn how to seek compensation as a passenger in an accident and hold each responsible party accountable.
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