As the passenger in a car accident, you have no control over the circumstances that may have contributed to the accident. Nevertheless, you may have suffered serious injuries due to the negligence of another driver, whether the driver of your vehicle or the driver of another vehicle on the road. You may deserve compensation for those injuries–but how should you go about pursuing it?
Is the Passenger in a Car Accident Covered by Insurance?
Generally speaking, the passenger in a car accident receives coverage in a car accident claim the same way the driver of the vehicle would: through the liable driver’s insurance policy.
Suppose, for example, that the driver of your vehicle caused the accident. Like the driver and any passengers in the other vehicle, you may have the right to pursue compensation through that driver’s insurance policy. Likewise, if the driver of the other vehicle caused the accident, you may need to pursue compensation through that driver’s insurance policy.
Most insurance policies have separate coverage amounts for bodily injury protection and property damage. While there may be policy limits on how much coverage all injured parties from the accident can pursue, which can make compensation more difficult when an accident involves multiple passengers who sustained serious injuries, any injured party, including a passenger, has the right to pursue compensation through that policy.
What if the Liable Driver Does Not Have Insurance?
Around 13-15% of Louisiana drivers do not carry car insurance. While this rate is much better than in most states, it does mean that you stand about a 1.3 out of 10 chance that the driver that caused your accident does not carry auto insurance.
If you have auto insurance and carry uninsured motorist coverage, your own insurance may provide coverage for your injuries in the event of an accident. You may also have the right to use your MedPay insurance to help cover the cost of medical expenses related to a car accident, regardless of who bears liability for that accident. You may also have the right to coverage under the uninsured motorist coverage carried by the driver of your vehicle. However, if you suffered injuries in an accident with a driver without insurance, working with an attorney can prove critical to determining the compensation you may deserve.
What Should You Do as the Passenger in a Car After an Accident?
As the passenger in a vehicle, you might have less control over the situation than the driver of either vehicle. However, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself and your right to compensation.
1. Make sure that the accident is reported.
Even if the accident only seems to involve property damage, make sure that the drivers report the accident. Encourage the driver of your vehicle not to leave the scene unless someone in the vehicle needs immediate medical attention. If you do have to leave the scene, contact police dispatch and let them know where you can be found.
A police report can serve as vital evidence in a personal injury claim related to a car accident. It helps establish who caused the accident. Since you were not driving, unless you committed a very dangerous act (like putting your hands over the driver’s eyes or jerking the steering wheel), you should not face liability for the accident. However, without a police report, it can prove much more difficult to establish who may bear liability for the accident, which can slow down the process of receiving compensation for any injuries you sustained.
2. Give an accurate report to the police.
As the passenger in a vehicle, you may:
- Have seen more of the conditions that led to the accident than either driver, since you may have had the ability to pay more attention to other factors than the two drivers.
- Have been distracted by something else, including your phone or a conversation, and not noticed anything that led up to the accident.
If you noticed details of the accident, share them with the responding officer. On the other hand, do not make up information about the accident. It’s okay to admit that you don’t know what happened! The police can use other evidence, including the testimony of the two drivers and any witnesses or video footage of the accident, to piece together what led to the accident and who may bear liability.
3. Get medical care, if you need it (and sometimes even if you think you do not).
After a minor fender bender, you may be fine to walk away from the scene of the accident. On the other hand, if the accident involved substantial property damage, it’s critical that you seek medical care even if you do not think that you sustained serious injury. Sometimes, you may suffer more serious injury than you initially thought–and a doctor can diagnose those injuries and help create a treatment plan that will increase your odds of making a full recovery. A doctor’s report can also prove vital to pursuing compensation following a serious accident, since it will establish what injuries you suffered and when they occurred.
Insurance companies may not always work in your favor after a serious accident. Sometimes, insurance companies try to limit the compensation they have to pay out to injured parties, including the passengers in a vehicle. Furthermore, if multiple passengers in the vehicle sustained serious injuries, you may need to fight for the full compensation you deserve. An attorney can help guide your claim, make sure you understand the compensation you really deserve, and fight on your behalf so that your rights as an injured passenger are not ignored as you file your car accident claim.
Did You Suffer Serious Injuries as a Passenger in a Car Accident?
If you suffered serious injuries as the passenger in a car accident, you need an attorney who will keep your best interests in mind. Contact Alvendia Kelly & Demarest today at 504-200-0000 for your free consultation.