Being involved in a car accident is an extremely stressful life event, and it only becomes more stressful in the months following the crash.
If the accident is severe, there will be arguments about who was at fault, and what the proper compensation will be for those involved in the crash.
But what if you weren’t driving when the accident occurred?
You may have been injured, but clearly, the accident wasn’t your fault because you were simply a passenger. There are specific steps that need to be taken if you were a passenger in a car accident. You need to protect yourself and get any insurance benefits that you are owed.
In this article, we’ll outline exactly what you should do if you’ve been a passenger in a car accident.
What To Do As A Passenger In A Car Accident
You may think that being a passenger in a traffic accident shouldn’t require much action on your part, but that isn’t the case. Here are the steps you need to take after the car accident has occurred.
Hire An Accident Attorney
The first step you should take, especially if you’ve been seriously injured in the accident, is to hire a reputable accident attorney to represent you. Having legal counsel during this type of case can protect you and ensure you are exercising your legal rights.
Car accident attorneys guide both drivers and passengers towards solutions that will help them recover both medically and financially. Here are just some of the tasks a car accident attorney will help you with.
Collect Evidence – Your attorney will know what kind of evidence will be needed to build a successful car accident claim. Since each case varies, different types of evidence may be required.
For example, if you claim the other driver ran a red light, your opinion won’t be enough to get the insurance company to reach a settlement with you. Instead, work with a lawyer who can acquire the red light footage that can prove your story making it nearly impossible for the other party to deny.
Filing a Claim – An accident attorney will help you file claims with the insurance company(s) and discuss all your specific options depending on your own insurance policy. They will read through all the insurance policies at work in the incident and offer sound advice on how to proceed with a claim.
Communicate on Your Behalf – Your car accident attorney will be able to communicate with the insurance company so you’re not placing yourself at risk for saying anything that might jeopardize your claim. Insurance adjusters, unfortunately, are waiting to catch you in a comment that they can spin in their favor.
Pressure and Negotiate – Insurers like to drag their feet in settling claims hoping you will abandon the claim/lawsuit or “give in” to a lowball settlement. When you work with an attorney, they can turn the heat up on the insurer to get them to move faster on your claim. Your accident lawyer will also negotiate your settlement and make sure you are being compensated correctly.
A Day in Court – If you and the insurer cannot come to a settlement, your attorney will represent you in court if necessary. Most cases never get to this point, but if they do, having an attorney will be crucial to navigating the courtroom procedures and paperwork filing.
File a Claim Against the Driver’s Insurance
Depending on which driver was found to be guilty of causing the accident, you can file a claim against that driver’s insurance company. You have the right to collect money from the driver that was at fault. This may take a long time as determining the responsibility of the accident could potentially go to court. If both drivers were found to be at fault, then you should file a claim against both insurance companies so you can be adequately compensated.
While you may have just been a passenger, this doesn’t make your claim worthless or not worth pursuing since your vehicle wasn’t necessarily involved. The adjuster might even treat your case with less “importance” since you were just a passenger. An auto crash attorney won’t let that happen and will pursue your case with the importance as they would if you were the driver or owner of the car.
If your injuries were severe in nature, you’d want to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance, especially if they were being negligent beyond a bad mistake. This is even the case in Florida despite being a “no-fault” state. The details will matter, but ask a car accident lawyer for guidance on your specific situation.
File a Claim Against Your Insurance Company
Depending on your auto insurance policy, you may be compensated for merely being a passenger in the car during the accident. This is dependent on what type of insurance you have, but it’s always best to call your insurance company and see what your options are.
It used to be that individuals were only insured if in their own cars and not so much if they were in other vehicles. Today, many insurers cover you no matter what vehicle you were in with that coverage following you from car to car.
Of course, you should also discuss your options with your attorney to make sure your insurance company isn’t cheating you. Your attorney will be familiar with your insurance policy and whether you can file a claim.
Collect Your Medical Documents – Reach out to the medical facilities, physicians, therapists, and chiropractors you’ve seen and ask for a copy of your medical records. Copy those and give a set to your attorney.
Accident Statement – In your best memory, write out the story of your accident so your attorney can refer to it regularly, even after you’ve gone. Do not share that document with anyone else, including insurance adjusters.
Acquire the Police Report – Whatever law enforcement agency helped you after the accident, you’ll want to get a copy of their police report. You might already have this document. Make a copy of that and give it to your attorney.
Insurance Details – Find a copy of your insurance policy, sometimes you can find this online or by asking your representative, and bring that with you to your attorney meeting. Your attorney will pore over the details of that policy to see if you can file a claim as a passenger.
Witness Information – Often times, there are accident witnesses. If you have their information, you’ll want to include that in your documents. If you don’t have that information, the police report may have those details, and the attorney can assist in contacting those individuals.
Write Down Questions – This is your chance to interview your car accident attorney, so write down all the questions you can think of relating to your crash situation. This can include questions about the attorney’s experience, background, and if they’ve worked on your kind of case before.
What “Not” to Do After Your Car Accident
As with drivers, you too will want to avoid a few situations so as not to put your car accident claim at risk to be denied. Adjusters are looking for any reason to deny or pay you less money than you deserve.
Avoid Insurance Adjusters – Chances are, the insurance adjuster will want to speak with you and get your account of what happened. Avoid this phone call until you speak with a lawyer first. Your attorney will be able to guide you through that call so you don’t say something that might hurt your claim.
Avoid Social Media and Online Platforms – Insurance adjusters will go to great lengths to find out if you are being truthful with them, including trying to find your online social platforms. This is even the case if your accounts are private, they will still try to befriend you somehow to see what you’re talking about and what you do with your day to day life. Avoid posting anything about your accident or injuries, and stick to very generic posts. Also, don’t check in anywhere that might plant a question about your injuries such as a yoga studio, hunting lodge, or bowling alley.
Don’t Miss Medical Appointments – Everyone has to reschedule an appointment or two, but avoid missing or rescheduling appointments with your doctors or therapists. Physicians will keep track of this, and if they insurer sees that you had missed appointments, they might think you’re not as injured as you claim.
Being a passenger in a car accident is a stressful life event that can not only leave you with physical injury but emotional and mental trauma as well.
You need to make sure you are adequately compensated for the accident by filing claims against the driver’s insurance and your own insurance policy.
To ensure that you are treated fairly and receive proper payment, it’s essential to hire a reliable accident attorney to represent you. Contact our law office today for more information and a free case review.