Car accidents happen every day, causing injuries to drivers and passengers alike. Drivers must carry auto liability insurance that provides coverage for all persons injured in a car crash. An injured passenger can recover damages with the help of a qualified personal injury attorney. Let’s look at what you should do if you are a passenger in a car accident.
Reasons for Car Accidents
Most car crashes are not accidents but the result of negligence. Driver errors are usually the cause, such as:
- Distracted driving – Drivers can be distracted by eating, drinking beverages, talking to passengers, or texting while driving
- Fatigued driving – Drivers who commute, drive late at night, or take long road trips are prone to drowsy driving
- Driving under the influence – Drunk and drugged driving is illegal and inherently dangerous, often resulting in catastrophic injuries or fatalities
- Speeding – Traveling at any speed above the posted limit can result in a high-impact collision
- Tailgating – Drivers following other vehicles too closely increase the risk of a rear-end accident.
Steps Passengers Should Take Immediately Following an Auto Accident
The first thing you should do after being injured as a passenger in a car accident is to call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. The police report and records from first responders will be valuable evidence in your car accident claim.
Next, take pictures of the site, vehicle damage, and your injuries. Also, get the names and personal information of anyone at the accident site, including other drivers and witnesses. If your injuries prevent you from carrying out these tasks, ask someone to help.
If you receive medical care, follow your doctor’s instructions to a T, including resting, staying out of work, taking medications, and getting further treatment. Failing to do so can adversely impact your injury claim. Also, keep records of your medical treatment, including doctor’s visits, lab results, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, surgeries, and prescribed medications. That will help to document your injuries.
Once you are on the mend, talk to a car accident lawyer. You have a right to seek damages, but it takes a trained personal injury attorney to get you the compensation you need and deserve.
Damages Passengers Can Recover After a Car Accident
An insurance company will reimburse an injured passenger for medical bills, lost wages, and expenses related to the car accident. Whether compensation comes from the driver’s insurer of the car you were traveling in or the other driver depends on which driver was at fault and the state’s insurance laws.
Each driver’s liability coverage is in play in a no-fault state. That means you will seek compensation from the insurer for the driver of the vehicle in which you were traveling.
Given that this person may be a family member or friend, you may have misgivings about pursuing a claim, but that’s the reason for no-fault insurance. Your attorney can also help you file a lawsuit to recover damages if you suffer a “serious” injury (as defined under the law) and either driver caused or contributed to the accident.
In a fault insurance state, your claim will be against the driver who caused the accident. That’s where an experienced car accident attorney can help. An adept attorney will conduct an investigation, identify the responsible party, demonstrate that party’s negligence, negotiate or litigate your claim, and fight for just compensation. While no two car accident cases are the same, you may recover damages such as:
- Medical expenses and rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages – present and future
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability/disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Attorney fees and court costs
You could also recover punitive damages if the driver acted illegally or egregiously, such as driving drunk. As the name implies, these damages will punish the driver and deter others from similar wrongdoing.
Being a passenger in a vehicle means putting your trust in the driver and other motorists on the road. If an accident occurs, passengers have a right to just compensation. Protect yourself by taking the steps outlined above and working with an experienced personal injury attorney.