What To Do if You’re a Passenger in a Car Accident
Mar 02, 2023
As a passenger, you place your trust in your driver and the others on the road to drive safely and responsibly. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and experiencing a crash as a passenger can be confusing. What steps should you take next? How can you receive appropriate compensation for any injuries or property damage you sustained in the accident?
This guide will answer those questions and explain in detail what to do as a passenger in a car accident.
What Your Next Moves Should Be as a Passenger in a Car Accident
After an accident, whether you’re a driver or a passenger, your first step should be to check on the people in your vehicle and determine whether anyone needs emergency medical attention. Once you’ve done so, take these next steps.
Collect Insurance Details, Accident Reports, and Eyewitness Accounts
Passengers should collect insurance details from both drivers involved in the accident. Ask each driver for the name of their auto insurance provider and their policy number. You may also want to take pictures of both of their driver’s licenses for reference.
If the police file an accident report for the accident, ask for a copy of the police report. You should also collect eyewitness accounts from anyone who saw the accident occur. Make sure to also ask for the witnesses’ names and contact information so you or your lawyer can ask them follow-up questions later.
You’ll need all this information when you file insurance claims for your injuries or property damage sustained in the accident. Additional evidence you can gather at the scene may help support your case. Consider taking photos and checking for surveillance videos that might have captured the accident.
File an Accident Claim With the At-Fault Driver's Insurance Provider
If you incurred expenses such as medical bills or property repair costs from the accident, you’ll need to file an accident claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The at-fault driver is the person who caused the accident.
Remember that more than one person can be at-fault for an accident. And in no-fault accident states each driver must carry their own personal injury protection (PIP) policy. If you’re a passenger in an accident in one of these states, you may need to file a personal injury claim with your driver’s PIP policy regardless of who was at fault.
Figuring out which driver was responsible for the accident can sometimes be complicated. In these cases, the process of determining the at-fault driver may drag on and last for months. A qualified personal injury law attorney can help you sort through the process and get the compensation you deserve.
What If the Driver Is Uninsured?
Even though drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of car insurance in almost every state, some drivers are uninsured. If the driver responsible for the accident is uninsured, you may wonder who will pay for the damage to the vehicles and other costs like your medical care.
In these situations, you may be able to file a claim with your own auto or medical insurance (if you have it). Uninsured motorist insurance exists for this very reason. Or, if the at-fault driver was the driver of the other vehicle, you can sometimes cover your bills through your driver’s insurance policy. You may also need to sue the uninsured at-fault driver to receive compensation for the costs you incurred.
Can a Passenger Ever Be the At-Fault Party?
Typically, either the driver of the car the passenger is in, the other driver, or both are named the at-fault party in an accident. The person behind the wheel is responsible for driving safely and legally.
In rare cases, however, the court can hold a passenger liable for the accident. If the passenger directly interferes with the driver or the vehicle, they would be the at-fault party instead of the driver. Some examples of this behavior include blinding or pushing the driver, hitting the gas or brake pedals, or grabbing the wheel.
Be sure to behave responsibly as a passenger in a vehicle. Don’t impede the driver in any way or attempt to distract them. This is for your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road.
When It May Be Time To Take Legal Action
If everything proceeds smoothly with your passenger in a car accident claim, you likely won’t need to take legal action. If, on the other hand, you hit road bumps during this process or don’t know how to proceed, it may be time to take legal action. Specifically, it may be time to hire a lawyer for a car accident if you find yourself in these scenarios:
- You sustained property damage in the accident
- You’re negotiating with the insurance companies
- You’re not sure which insurance policies apply in your case
- You suffered trauma or emotional pain from the car accident
- You need help covering the cost of medical treatment for injuries sustained in the accident
Some people hesitate to take legal action against their families or friends even in these cases. Keep in mind, though, that you typically won’t be seeking compensation from the driver but rather their insurance company. After you file your claim against their policy, your friend or family won’t have to engage with the proceedings any further.
Schedule a Consultation With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured as a passenger in a car accident, an experienced car accident attorney can help. Our attorneys can walk you through the claims process so you can focus on your recovery, not legal proceedings and filing insurance claims.
Schedule a free initial consultation with one of the highly qualified personal injury attorneys at the Spence Law Firm to discuss your case today.
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If you are struggling with a serious injury, or are fighting against seemingly impossible odds against big corporations, insurance companies or the government, call us to speak with our team of trial lawyers who will fight for you. We take no fee unless we earn it by winning your case.