What to Do If You Are a Passenger in a Car Accident

Posted on: 2 March 2017

If you were in a car accident and suffered injuries, but your friend was driving, you might be wondering where to turn for compensation. Because the process for compensation as an auto accident passenger can be a little convoluted, here are some guidelines for who to approach. 

When the Other Party Is at Fault

If the other driver was at fault for the car accident, then you and your friend can cooperate to file a joint insurance claim against them. Their insurance company will want to know about the damage done to the vehicle and other personal items, plus the medical expenses that you and other passengers have suffered. Since the claim represents a single event, everyone's medical claims will go into the same claim and the insurance company's coverage limits will apply to the event in total.

Sometimes, especially when there are multiple people with injuries, the liability of the other person's car insurance has a limit that is not enough to cover all of the damages. After that limit, it will be time to look past the insurance company and sue the other party directly.

When The Driver in Your Car Is at Fault

If the driver of the car you were a passenger in is at fault, tensions can get a little higher. You will need to file your claim with their insurance company. Your friend may or may not want to cooperate with filing the insurance claim. And unfortunately, if you have significant medical bills, you will need to sue your friend.

The Role of a Car Accident Attorney

An auto accident attorney plays multiple roles in these situations. Attorneys are an important catalyst when your insurance company claim is not going successfully. An insurer might be reluctant to cut you a check, saying your injuries and damages are not related to the accident, or grossly underestimating the losses or costs of continuing medical care. That's one time to get a car accident attorney involved.

Another is when you simply want to avoid the discomfort of filing a claim against a friend of yours. Having a tactful lawyer do most of the work for you is a good way to make it more of an impersonal necessity rather than a feud among friends.

And finally, you will need a lawyer if you hope to start a personal injury claim that goes beyond the limits of an insurance company payment. Those often involve larger sums of money at stake and require the help of a skilled and experienced legal advocate to maximize your chances of success. After all, the quality of evidence and the way it's presented can both have an impact on how a judge perceives your case and how much sympathy they have for your situation.