Being a passenger in a car accident gives you different rights when it comes to insurance. For this reason, it's important to find an auto accident attorney that's familiar with all the different ways to get you a fast and fair settlement.
A Tough Situation
You may wonder why you need an attorney when you're injured as a passenger. After all, you weren't driving and didn't cause the accident. But you need to consider how important it is to protect yourself from the insurance company of the driver who is at fault.
Think for a second about an example where you're a passenger in a car with a good friend. Despite them being a careful driver, they slide on ice, lose control, and hit a tree.
You're injured in the accident but are reluctant to sue your friend for damages. After all, they didn't mean to have an accident. But how will you pay your medical bills? Can you guarantee their insurance company will cover you fairly? Since emotion can cloud judgment, it's important to seek the assistance of an accident lawyer.
What to Do First
As always, your health and well-being are of the highest importance. If you have passenger injuries from a car accident, the first thing you need to do is seek medical attention. You may feel okay in the moment, but could be suffering an injury. Waiting days or weeks can put your health at risk and can even jeopardize your settlement. Don’t worry about the bill — your auto attorney from Accident.com will make sure that you're taken care of.
If you're able to, get as much information as possible, from the other driver(s), before leaving the scene and ask the officer on-site for the accident report number. Having this information will help the claim process move along without delays and will ensure you are fairly compensated.
How Your Attorney Might Pursue Your Case
Methods for dealing with your accident, as a passenger, will vary based on the details of each situation. One of the most common actions is to file against the at-fault driver's insurance. In cases where others are also injured in the car accident, things get more complicated. Multiple-claimant lawsuits take a longer time to resolve, but is an option if you and the other people in the car don't want to individually hire attorneys for each of your claims.
For multiple-claimant suits, there are a few things to remember. The law requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of coverage for personal injuries. This amount doesn't change if multiple people are injured. Instead, it's divided amongst everyone. Therefore, if a driver has $30,000 in personal injury coverage and five people are injured, each person would get an average of $6,000. This may not be enough to cover medical costs. Worse yet, the entire process can take a long time and may result in your own insurance rates going up, even though you weren't driving.
A smart auto attorney can get around this bottleneck by using other methods. Attorneys can utilize what’s known as the first-party clause in the driver's insurance to cover your injuries. The most well-known variant is called personal injury payments (PIP). In this, a driver files a claim and, regardless of fault, injured parties receive payment. Not only is PIP rapid, but it will not affect your insurance rates like filing a standard claim would.
A downside to PIP is that not every state requires it and even in the ones that do, the amount may not be enough to cover your injuries. Your attorney will be able to determine if this course of action makes sense in your situation.
Other Scenarios — Public Transportation and Rideshare
There are additional aspects of your claim, to take into consideration, such as duty of care by a transportation company. Bus companies and municipalities carry large policies to cover passenger injuries. If you're injured on a bus or in a public taxi, there will be adequate resources, to compensate you, as they must hold commercial policy limits.
A newer development in public transportation is the rise of rideshare companies. Their unique position, as an outsourced taxi company, makes dealing with a car accident a little bit more complicated then the previous scenarios discussed. In most cases, both the driver (who is at fault) and the rideshare company will have overlapping policies that cover passenger injuries. Your attorney can find out how how these overlapping policies can cover your injuries based on who is at fault for the accident.
If you're a victim of someone else's driving, you're not helpless. Accident.com is here to help you find the right auto attorney to defend your rights and make sure that you get the help that you deserve. But there are time limits for filing your car accident claim, so act now.