In car accident cases, liability is nearly always assigned to one of the drivers. Passenger injury claims happen when there is someone injured as a result of the accident but was not driving a vehicle. These claims are known as “Third-Party Auto Accident Claims” because they are generally filed against an insurance policy/company not owned by the plaintiff.
In these cases, the claim process can usually be more straightforward as the passenger is not typically responsible for any portion of the accident liability. From the perspective of an insurance company, the driver is their primary focus as this is where most cases will find evidence of negligence.
As a result, if you are injured as a passenger in a car accident, you should take the following steps:
- Get medical attention right away, even if you don’t think you’re injured adrenaline can often mask the pain of injuries sustained in an accident.
- Gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident. This can include taking photos, getting contact information from witnesses, and speaking to the police to get a copy of the accident report.
- Contact your OWN attorney who can help you navigate the claim process and ensure you get the maximum compensation you deserve. Using the same attorney as the driver of your vehicle is generally not advised as they are working on behalf of the driver. An attorney should have your interest as their primary focus.
Once you sign the agreement, also known as a liability release, a personal injury case is considered settled. A liability release is an agreement between two or more parties that settles any potential legal claims that may arise because of an accident or other incident. By signing the release, the passenger agrees not to file any future legal claims against the driver in connection with the accident.
Most importantly, the liable party will encourage you to settle for the smallest amount possible, and once you accept you cannot pursue additional compensation – often very early in the process. It is important to consult with an attorney to make sure you are aware of your rights and what legal options you have available.
Generally, as a passenger injured in a car accident, you are rightfully entitled to compensation for medical bills and pain and suffering.
Documenting the scene of an auto accident
If you are injured as a passenger in an accident, collecting as much information as possible immediately at the scene of the accident is very important. This is because the information can be used as evidence later if you decide to file a compensation claim for any injuries that you might have sustained. A few important things you need to gather:
- Information regarding the insurance of the driver and other drivers involved in the accident.
- Copy of the accident report as filed by the on-scene law enforcement officer.
- Information regarding any eyewitnesses present on the scene of the accident.
- You may be filing against the driver of your vehicle – even if they are your friend.
Filing claims as a Third-Party Passenger
When filing a passenger injury claim, and liability is not obvious, you will need to make the claim against both drivers in a two-vehicle accident. However, if liability for the accident is evident then the passenger would only file a claim against the negligent party. If liability is determined to fall on both drivers, then the injured passenger would try to recover compensation from both insurance policies.
In the case that multiple passengers are injured in an accident, all those injured will be filed against the same insurance company under a single policy. With multiple people injured, there will be less money available to compensate everyone fairly. Make sure you have proper legal representation to handle your claim quickly and thoroughly.
Call Harsh Law
Harsh Law is a personal injury law firm that proudly serves communities throughout Southern California. Give our expert legal team a call at 909-793-6261 for a free case evaluation.