When you sit in the passenger’s seat of another’s vehicle, the last thing you expect is to get into an accident. Still, auto collisions can happen to anyone at any time. Unfortunately, as a passenger, you may suffer extensive injuries and losses, requiring monetary recovery.
As the victim of a car accident, you have rights just like anyone else. A car accident lawyer can preserve these rights and put you in a favorable position to get the compensation you need and deserve.
Passenger Rights: Is it Possible to File a Claim if I was a Passenger in a Car Accident?
Vehicle passengers have the same rights as drivers. Regardless of whether your vehicle’s driver was at fault or the other driver,
Many car passengers are under the mistaken belief that only the driver can recover any compensation for injuries, property damage, and other losses after an accident. That’s not the case at all. Passengers involved in collisions also have the opportunity to pursue financial recovery.
How to Protect Your Rights as an Innocent Passenger in a Car Accident
Although you have certain rights as an innocent passenger in a car accident, you must exercise your rights and take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Your actions after a collision can significantly impact your car accident claim.
First, put your health at the forefront and seek medical care right away after a collision.
Always follow through on your treatment. Keep all medical-related documents, including records and bills. If you need time off from work, ask for doctor’s notes to prove your injuries. Medical documentation can seriously help you obtain fair compensation.
Document as much evidence as possible regarding your injuries. Snap photos and take videos, and give police officers your version of what happened if possible.
Jot down important details and anything you remember from the accident, including the weather and road conditions at the time of the collision and what you recall in the moments leading up to impact. Even the smallest details can help bolster your claim.
Finally, speak with a skilled car accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash. A lawyer can clear up any confusion you may be experiencing, explain your rights and options, and determine the best way to pursue financial recovery on your behalf.
Actively trying to protect your rights can pay off for you in the long run. When in doubt, always turn to a knowledgeable car accident lawyer for support, guidance, and direction.
Compensation for Passengers of Auto Collisions
The damages you can pursue are directly related to the injuries and losses you suffer as a result of your accident. An attorney can accurately calculate the value of your case to go after the fairest possible settlement.
Compensation for medical expenses is usually the most important after a car accident. Simply put, medical care is expensive, and you may not have the means to cover your out-of-pocket expenses. In a recent year, car accidents injured 4.5 million individuals, costing the U.S. $340 billion.
Based on your medical expenses, you can receive monetary recovery for:
- Emergency room or urgent care visits
- Ambulance transportation costs
- Hospital stays
- Therapy and rehabilitation
The impact of your injuries on your overall health and abilities plays a large role in your damages as well. If you require medical care in the future for your collision injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for future medical bills as well.
After suffering injuries in a car wreck, you may need to take time off from work. While you may have some paid time off accrued, you might need to take more days than those you have saved up. Once your PTO days run out, you won’t receive any income for the days you miss work.
If your accident injuries interfere with your ability to work and make a living, you can pursue compensation. Additionally, if your injuries are serious enough that you cannot return to work in the same capacity as before, you can also include diminished earning potential in your damages.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering encompasses many negative physical and mental effects you may experience after a collision, including, but not limited to:
- Physical discomfort
- Chronic pain from your injuries
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Anxiety and depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
This is a common example of an intangible loss. While it is difficult to place a monetary value on these things, strong enough evidence can back up your claims.
When your collision injuries result in a disability, whether permanent or temporary, you can pursue damages. A disability can not only affect your capacity to earn an income, but it can also substantially affect your lifestyle, making it impossible to participate in and enjoy activities and relationships like you once did.
How to File a Car Accident Claim as a Passenger
Pursuing compensation may look a little different for vehicle passengers after a car crash. You generally have three ways to file a claim and obtain monetary recovery for your losses. It is worth noting that fault and insurance laws can affect your claim, so hire a lawyer who understands your state’s rules.
You may not know which route is best for you. A car accident lawyer can review every option with you and decide which can yield the most favorable results.
Filing a Claim with the Driver’s Insurance Company
After an accident, you can file a claim under your driver’s auto insurance. Your ability to file a claim under the driver’s insurance depends on your state’s laws and whether they’re a fault or no-fault state.
Depending on your state’s laws, you may only have the opportunity to file a claim under your driver’s insurance if they were at fault. If you can seek financial recovery from your driver’s insurance, you will file a claim and seek damages for your losses.
Filing a Claim with Your Own Insurance
When you live in a no-fault state, it means you can file a claim with your insurance, no matter who’s at fault. Therefore, in a no-fault state, you can seek monetary recovery under your own policy.
For example, Florida is a no-fault state. Florida drivers carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which provides compensation no matter who was at fault for an accident, up to your policy limits.
Even if you were not driving the vehicle at the time of the accident, you can still file a claim with your own insurance for personal injury protection.
If you do not have a car and, therefore, have no auto insurance policy with PIP coverage, you can then pursue compensation under the bodily injury liability coverage on your driver’s insurance policy.
Filing a Claim Through the Other Driver’s Insurance
If the other driver is at fault for your collision, and you reside in an at-fault state, you can file a third-party collision claim under their auto insurance.
It may be challenging to obtain fair compensation from the other driver’s insurance, especially if multiple individuals are filing claims under that driver’s insurance. Auto insurance companies only pay out up to policy limits, which can present a problem.
Uninsured Drivers: Is it Still Possible to Obtain Compensation if the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
Nearly every state in the U.S. requires its drivers to carry car insurance. Drivers must carry at least the minimum insurance set by the state to comply with the law.
Although illegal, many drivers choose to drive without insurance. This not only means legal repercussions for them, but it may pose a challenge to victims of car accidents when it comes time to pursue compensation.
Because it’s so common for motorists to drive without insurance, you can purchase uninsured motorist coverage (UM) to cover you after a collision with an uninsured driver. This insurance also covers hit and run accidents.
Uninsured motorist coverage may or may not be mandatory in your state. In states that do not require UM, it is an add-on option to give drivers extra protection.
If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, and your driver has UM protection under their auto insurance, this type of insurance coverage usually extends to passengers. Therefore, you may have the chance to obtain compensation this way.
Without UM coverage, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Accidents with uninsured motorists can be tricky to handle. Because an experienced car accident attorney knows all about auto insurance and laws protecting passengers, you can feel confident putting your case in a lawyer’s hands.
What Happens if I’m a Passenger in a Rideshare Vehicle Involved in a Collision?
In the last few years, rideshare apps have truly taken off. They offer riders an efficient and economical way to commute and get to their destinations at any time of day. While rideshare companies aim to make ridesharing safe for all riders, accidents can still happen.
When you’re riding in a rideshare vehicle, you’re still a passenger, even if you don’t know the driver. So, do the same rules apply? Not entirely. The primary difference is the insurance. Rideshare insurance companies require drivers to carry their own auto insurance but also provide third-party liability insurance if necessary.
If you’re in a rideshare accident in a fault state, you can file a claim under the at-fault party’s insurer. This can be the rideshare driver or the other driver. When the rideshare driver is at fault, you will file a collision claim through their personal auto insurance. However, if their insurance coverage does not cover your damages, the rideshare company’s insurance will kick in.
When you’re involved in a rideshare collision in a no-fault state, you can file a claim through your own insurance for PIP coverage. But, if that’s not enough to cover your damages, you can pursue additional compensation through the at-fault party’s insurance.
Does a Passenger in a Car Accident Need Their Own Attorney?
Getting into an accident as a passenger can frustrate and drain you. You may not know what to do or where to turn, leaving you at a standstill.
Hiring a legal representative is not a legal requirement but can benefit the outcome of your claim beyond measure. Car accident lawyers have a special understanding of these cases, even if you were just a passenger and played no part in causing the collision.
You deserve compensation just as much as anyone else involved in the accident, so why not put yourself in the best position to get a beneficial settlement? Hire a car accident attorney.
Time is Limited – Consult with a Car Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, you don’t have forever to file your claim. Depending on your state’s laws, you generally only have one to six years after your collision to file a claim for compensation. Most states only give you two years.
The sooner you speak with a personal injury attorney, the faster they can begin working on your claim, getting you one step closer to financial recovery.