The most common personal injury claims following a car accident, as any Rogers car accident lawyer knows, are claims brought by a driver involved in the crash. However, it is equally possible for passengers to be injured during a car accident. Some of the legal issues that arise are unique to passengers. Here is what you should know about how passenger claims may be different from claims brought by the driver.
A passenger could be injured while in the car with the at-fault driver
One of the key elements of any personal injury claim following a car accident is the determination of fault. You can’t bring a legal claim unless you first determine against whom the claim must be brought. A Rogers car accident lawyer will be able to help determine who is at fault for injuries sustained in the car accident. In nearly every case, the passengers in either car are not the cause of the accident. For that reason, the issue will be whether the driver of your car or the driver of the other car was actually negligent.
Insurance companies compensate passengers for their injuries
Regardless of who is determined to be at fault, it will be that person’s auto insurance company that is required to compensate you for your injuries. However, the determination of liability is not always simple or straightforward. Each accident is different and, proving who is at fault may not always be obvious. That is where your Rogers car accident lawyer can help you to investigate the accident and determine who should be held liable.
How passengers can make a claim following a car accident
In order to initiate a legal claim for injuries sustained during a car accident, usually the first step is to make an insurance claim with the carrier for the at-fault driver. Even if that driver turns out to be a relative or friend, you are required to make an official claim with that person’s insurance company in order to be fully compensated for your injuries.
Now, making a claim as a passenger is a little different. It may be a more of a challenge for a passenger to obtain the information required to properly make a claim. Although the drivers involved in a car accident will exchange relevant information, as the passenger you may need to obtain a copy of the police report in order to bet the information you need. In some cases, passengers get caught in the middle of the insurance companies who will both claim their insured was not at fault. In order to protect your claim, you may need to file a claim with both drivers’ insurance carriers.
Who pays for the medical expenses of the passenger?
For those who own their own vehicles and have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage, your own insurance will cover your medical expenses under your PIP coverage. In some states, PIP coverage is mandatory, however, it is optional in both Arkansas and Missouri. Depending on the laws in your state, there may be certain requirements you must meet in order to make a claim under your PIP coverage. If you don’t have auto insurance, or you don’t have PIP coverage, then the insurance carrier for either the driver of the vehicle you were in, or the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, will most likely pay the claim.
What happens if a passenger is partially at fault for their injuries?
Passengers, like drivers, are required to use reasonable care for their own safety. That would include wearing a seat belt. So, if it is shown that your injuries were more serious because you did not wear your seat belt, then you could be found partially responsible for your injuries. This is also referred to as comparative negligence, which could limit or even eliminate your damages in a car accident case. Also, if you knew that your driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, but you still agreed to be a passenger, you may be found to have assumed the risk of being injured in that situation.
It is a good idea for passengers injured in a car accident to get their own lawyer
Despite the fact that it may be simpler to let the lawyer that represents the driver of the car you were in represent you as well, that is not always the best thing to do. If it is determined that the driver of the car you were in was actually at fault for the accident, then you cannot be represented by the same lawyer. Why? Because that would be considered a conflict of interest. Each car accident case needs to be analyzed based on the specific circumstances of that case. So discuss your facts with a Rogers car accident lawyer.
If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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