After a car accident, many passengers don’t want to pursue legal action because they don’t want the driver, usually a friend or relative, to suffer any negative repercussions. They believe the driver’s insurance premiums will go up if they file a claim, think they will have to sue the driver, or worry their relationship will suffer because of their actions.
But you shouldn’t have to suffer physically or financially because you happened to be a passenger in a car accident. And you don’t have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver in order to receive compensation.
If you were injured as a passenger in a car wreck, you are entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, damaged property, and overall pain. For example, if you suffered a sprayed wrist and painful seatbelt burns during the accident, and your suitcase was thrown from the vehicle and then damaged or destroyed, you would be entitled to compensation for the items lost in your suitcase, the suitcase itself, your medical bills related to your burns and sprain, and any wages you lost because you were receiving medical care for your injuries.
When filing a claim, first check your own car insurance policy.
Many policies include coverage if you are a passenger. Because this is your policy in your own name, this is the easiest route to obtaining compensation.
If you don’t have your own car insurance policy, like if you don’t drive or don’t have a car at the moment, you should be covered on the driver’s insurance. This coverage is built into their policy, and the driver will already be filing claims regarding this accident for damage to their car and any physical injuries they suffered. If your driver does not have car insurance and they were not at fault for the accident, you can file with the responsible driver’s insurance.
If you were using a ride-share service like Uber or Lyft when you were in the car wreck, or if you were in a taxi at the time, these companies have insurance policies that cover passengers. Uber, for example, offers up to $1 million in coverage.
You’ll need to file a claim with the company you were using at the time. Individual drivers may also have rideshare insurance to help cover what the company might not.
The driver is primarily responsible for your safety while you are their passenger.
If the driver was negligent in any way—if they were texting or made a preventable mistake or did not keep the vehicle in good repair—they may be at fault for the accident. They failed to keep you safe, so your relationship is already going to experience some strain. You won’t be able to maintain or repair your relationship with mounting bills, pain, and resentment standing between you. In my experience, moving forward to get the compensation you need to recover physically and financially from the accident is the best way for your relationship with the driver to also recover.
In the unlikely event that you don’t have car insurance and none of the drivers involved in the wreck have car insurance either, a personal injury lawsuit against the driver responsible for the accident is likely the only way you will receive compensation. To determine who is at fault, it’s vital to have a police report, as many photos and videos of the accident as possible, and the help of an experienced personal injury attorney like me. Even when insurance companies are involved, most will not pay anything without a police report, so file one as soon as possible after the accident and call the police department later to obtain a copy. Only one report needs to be filed per accident.
Sometimes investigators decide that more than one person is at fault for a wreck, which means you can file claims with each driver’s insurance company to help cover the costs of your injuries. In very rare instances, investigators may determine that a passenger is at fault or partially at fault for a car wreck, for example when a passenger grabbed the wheel or provoked the driver into driving recklessly. In these cases, even if the at-fault passenger has car insurance, a personal injury lawsuit may be the best way to obtain compensation. A personal injury lawsuit may also be your best option if an insurance company rejects your claim, for example if the company claims you knowingly got into a car driven by a drunk or impaired driver. Such an allegation is easier to fight in court against the responsible driver than with the insurance company itself.
If you have filed a claim with the relevant insurance company or companies and their offer seems low or doesn’t cover all your costs that resulted from your injuries, do not accept the offer and contact me right away. With over 27 years of experience as a car accident attorney, I can tell you if their offer is fair. I also have the resources and expertise to make sure you receive every penny you are owed. Car insurance companies have entire teams available to fight your claim. Call me at Dellacona Law Firm to get my team on your side.