When you get behind the steering wheel of a car and are involved in an accident, most people have some idea of what to do: the safety and injury check, the exchange of insurance information with the other driver, calling a tow truck if necessary, see a doctor, call an attorney, and so on. However, who is responsible when a friend, spouse, or other family member was behind the wheel and you got hurt as a passenger? Can you still seek compensation for your hospital bills and other expenses? Here’s what you should know.
Determining Liability in a Car Accident
Your first step in seeking compensation for your injury as a passenger is finding out who was responsible for the accident. This may be easy in some accident situations, but it could be less clear who caused the crash in others. An admission of fault is always helpful, but you may need to rely on evidence to determine what happened. Any time there is an injury in a car accident, the law requires that the police get involved, so there should be a responding officer, as well as a police report on the accident. This can help point you in the right direction. You should also try to get the contact information and insurance details of every driver involved in the crash while at the scene, if you are able to. The responding officer may be able to help you with that, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Once you have some idea of who is responsible for the accident, the process of seeking compensation for your injuries will likely begin with an insurance claim, even if the driver of the car you were in was at fault, and even if it was your spouse! It’s not at all uncommon for one spouse to file a claim against the insurance policy of the other, to prevent the family bank account from being drained by the medical costs. You may want to discuss it with your spouse first so that nobody is surprised, but remember, this is exactly what insurance is designed for—to protect you and your family from out-of-pocket expenses.
Making a claim against the insurance of a friend, family member, or spouse can actually be a big relief to the responsible person, too. Since you know one another and have a relationship, it’s likely that he or she already feels bad that you got hurt and understands that you shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s mistake. A claim against his or her insurance will help you recover, and it won’t come directly out of the pocket of the responsible person, either.
However, you should also understand that you do not need permission to file a claim against someone else’s insurance, either. You should not have to pay for an injury caused by an accident that wasn’t your fault. If your friend or family member refuses to take responsibility for the injuries that he or she caused, you are completely within your rights to go ahead and make that insurance claim anyway.
Getting Legal Help After an Accident
While you can make the insurance claim and even file a civil lawsuit yourself (if it comes to that), a personal injury attorney can help you through the process. The insurance company may try to come back to you with a settlement offer that doesn’t begin to cover the medical bills and other expenses related to your injuries, or even reject your claim outright. You can seek the help of an attorney from the very beginning to help you through the claims process, or you may choose to get help after the insurance company starts giving you trouble.
In any accident situation, having a professional by your side to ensure that your legal rights are safe and that you receive compensation for the full value of your claim is a safe choice.
The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP have spent decades standing up for those who have been injured due to the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of others, and we want to help you after your accident, too. Our experienced legal professionals are here to make sure your rights are protected so that you and your family can get the recovery you deserve.
For a free, no-obligation consultation with Wayne Wright LLP, call us by phone, use our online contact form to send us an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now and arrange to speak to us about your accident situation today.