Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident?
A car accident can be a scary experience for everyone involved, but it can be particularly confusing if you are a passenger who gets injured in the crash. You may not know how insurance coverage works in this case. If the accident was caused by the other driver, you actually have the legal right to make a claim against their insurance policy. If your driver was at-fault, however, you will need to file a personal injury claim against their insurance company. In cases where fault is shared, you may file claims against all responsible drivers.
What to Do Immediately After the Accident
When you have been hurt as a passenger in a car accident, there are several steps that you will want to follow to maximize your chances of recovery.
Get Medical Attention
If you have been injured in the accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Even if your injury seems minor at first, remember that many injuries can become worse in the hours, even days, following a wreck. If you feel completely fine, it’s still a good idea to follow up with your healthcare provider. The documentation of your condition after an accident not only protects your health but can also help you avoid disputes with the insurance company about the cause of your injuries.
- In many cases, the drivers involved will contact the police to file an accident report. When speaking with the officer, try to only give factual details about the incident. Before you leave the scene, you should find out how you can obtain a copy of the report for your records.
- Take photographs or videos of your own visible injuries, the crash site, and any damage to the vehicles involved in the accident.
- Get the contact information of all drivers as well as their insurance details. It’s also a good idea to obtain the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident.
- If you need medical attention, be sure to collect copies of all records pertaining to your injuries.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Hiring a personal injury attorney is one of the first things you should do after an accident as a passenger. Retaining the services of an experienced attorney early on can help you navigate the often-complicated claims process. To get the best result possible for your case, you should never talk with claims adjusters or any representative from the insurance company without consulting with an attorney first.
Basics of Passenger Injury Claims
As the plaintiff in a car accident case, you must be able to prove liability (that someone other than you were at fault) and damages (how you were injured and the losses you incurred due to your injury). In a multi-car accident, one of the drivers will likely be found liable for the crash. If just the vehicle you occupied was involved, your driver will probably be found at fault, excluding any external factors. If the driver hit a stationary object, such as a tree or wall, they would also be held responsible for any damages.
Your attorney will help prove your injuries using medical records and photos and videos from the scene. If you’ve had to take time off work, they will make sure your claim includes your lost income and any future lost income in the event that you’ve been left disabled. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your lawyer may be successful in recovering compensation for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering that resulted from your injuries.
Filing a Passenger Injury Claim
When you make a claim as a passenger under the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy, this will be a third-party car insurance claim. The passenger injury claim is similar to a traditional car accident claim except that the passenger has the right to make a claim against both drivers in the case of an accident where the drivers share fault.
Responsibilities as a Passenger in California
In the state of California, the passenger is under duty to care for their own safety. You should wear a seat belt, never get in a car with an intoxicated driver, and ask to exit safely from the vehicle if the driver is acting recklessly.
As a passenger, it is not your job to know about the conditions of the road. It is the duty of the driver to use reasonable care. However, according to California Civil Jury Instruction (CACI) No. 711, a passenger is responsible for taking the steps necessary to ensure his or her own safety in the event that they become aware of a danger on the highway, including environmental factors as well as the impairment or reckless actions of their driver.
Importance of Attorney Representation
You might find that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will attempt to either deny or diminish the value of your claim. They may use manipulative tactics to make you say something that you shouldn’t. This is why it is essential to retain a personal injury attorney before filing a claim. Your attorney can help you deal with the insurance company and also help you determine if the legal obligation rests with the driver of the vehicle you were in, the other vehicle involved in the accident, or other external parties.
Get the Legal Help You Need Today
Navigating your options after an accident can be confusing. Every traffic collision is different, and it’s not always easy to determine liability, so you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Your lawyer will investigate the facts thoroughly and evaluate all of your legal options.
If you were a passenger in a vehicle that was wrecked in the Bakersfield area, the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones is ready to discuss your case. We will guide you through the process of gathering information and filing in efforts to recover the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today to find out more about our services and how we can help you.