Much of the information about car accidents relates to the drivers of the vehicles, but what happens if you were the passenger of a car involved in a car accident? In many important ways, the process is the same for passengers as it for drivers, but there are some important differences.
Who’s at Fault?
One advantage to being a passenger is most of the time there is no argument that you were not at fault for the accident. But, the problem becomes you have to determine who is at fault for the car accident. Only the at-fault driver and their insurance will be required to pay your damages.
Each accident is different, with the cause of the accident sometimes being obvious and sometimes being difficult to determine.
Getting Medical Bills Paid
Even if you don’t have car insurance or health insurance, almost all states require drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) as part of their car insurance policy. This means the insurance company for the driver of your vehicle will pay your reasonable medical bills for a certain period of time, often 90 to 180 days, and they will seek reimbursement from the other insurance company if they decide the other driver was at fault.
After the PIP coverage has expired you will have to rely on your own medical insurance for coverage.
Making an Insurance Claim
You will have to make your own insurance claim with the company of the at fault driver. This means even if the driver of your car is at fault, and even of that driver is a close friend or family member, you need to make a claim with their insurance if you want to get compensated for your injuries and pain and suffering.
Making a claim as a passenger is a little different from making a claim as a driver. First, it may be tougher as a passenger to get the information you need like policy numbers and insurance company contact information. You also do not have a duty to cooperate with an insurance company.
Often passengers will get caught between two insurance companies as both will claim the other driver was at fault. As a passenger you may need to file claims with both insurance companies to protect yourself.
Getting a Lawyer
If you are getting the runaround from insurance companies, or you just need help managing everything related to your claim you should hire a personal injury lawyer.
Many times passengers will want to have the same lawyer as the driver of their car. If the other driver is at fault for the accident this will not be a problem. However, a lawyer may have a conflict of interest. He or she cannot represent your interests as a passenger if their other client, the driver may have been at fault in the accident.
While every case is unique, it is often best as a passenger to find your own lawyer to represent your interests. Sometimes a lawyer will have to pursue claims with both drivers at the same time until the actual cause of the accident is better understood.
If you have been the passenger in a car accident you have the same rights you would have if you were a driver. The best way to protect your rights and ensure you get the fair compensation you deserve is to find an experience lawyer.