Do I have a Claim After Being a Passenger in a Car Accident?
- Aug 19, 2020
- By: Tom Schimmerling
A car accident can be a devastating occurrence. Whether you are badly injured or just inconvenienced in a minor accident, it’s never a situation to be taken lightly. Many people develop a certain amount of fear and/or anxiety after being involved in a car accident. Perhaps someone rear-ended you at a low rate of speed, caused a little damage and no physical harm. You might not have any long-lasting effects from the accident, but you might spend the rest of your life becoming anxious when at a stop and someone is driving up behind you. Now, imagine being a passenger in a car accident and feeling that anxiety anytime you step foot into a vehicle. Is there anything you can do?
Every State has Different Laws
Unfortunately, every state has different laws regarding accidents. Some states are no-fault states, some states are not. It all depends on where you are a passenger in a vehicle accident. The great news is that you do have recourse in many instances, even if you are not driving the car that was involved in the accident. Passengers might be considered a third-party, but this doesn’t mean you can’t seek damages.
Let’s talk about no-fault states. This means that there is no fault. Essentially, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident or who did not cause the accident. The insurance companies pay the medical costs and repair costs and everyone goes about their lives when all is said and done. In a fault state, this is not the case. The driver who caused the accident is the one whose insurance company is paying for all the damages, and it’s often a state riddled with litigation claims because that’s how it works. Most states, thankfully, are no-fault states.
If you’re the passenger in a car accident, you don’t have to prove anything other than that you were in the car. This means it’s imperative that there is a police report with your name on it as not only a witness, but a a participant in the accident. You cannot exchange personal information with the other driver and simply hope that everyone backs you up when you say you were part of the accident. If both drivers are at fault in the accident, you can sue them both for damages. Otherwise, you need to review the laws of the state with a lawyer in the particular state the accident occurred.
One thing you should be concerned with as a passenger is the insurance situation of the drivers. Hopefully, they’re both insured. However, if they are not insured or one is under-insured, you might have additional issues at hand. Nearly 13 percent of drivers in America do not have insurance or do not have enough insurance.
When Can I File?
If you are a passenger in a car accident, you don’t have to wait for the drivers to file a claim. You can file a claim right away by yourself, and you should find that they are willing to work with you. However, if one or both of the driver’s involved in the accident have insurance companies that are unwilling to pay, you may find yourself in a situation where you are going to trial to seek damages from the accident. One thing you must realize is that you are never at fault as the passenger in the accident. It is always the fault of the driver of one or both of the vehicles involved. You are not liable for any damages.
If your case does not settle and neither insurance companies are willing to take responsibility for the accident, you may go to trial. During the trial, you might find that both of the drivers are held accountable and liable for your damages. The final damages might be split between the driver’s and their insurance companies, but that doesn’t mean the split is equal. One insurance company might be asked to pay more in damages than the other depending on the findings in the accident investigation.
What Should I Do As a Passenger in a Car Accident?
The first thing you should do if you are a passenger in a car accident is call our offices. Attorney Tom Schimmerling is extremely well versed in New York State motor vehicle laws and is here to help you determine your next steps. Tom is happy to share with you the many options you have as a passenger in a car accident. First and foremost, you have many damages to seek depending on the type of accident and what exactly occurred. These can be:
- Medical damages
- Lost wages
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
If neither insurance companies of the driver, or the driver(s) of any other vehicle, want to pay for your expenses, you might even find that you have to go through your own insurance company to take care of them yourself. You are eligible to seek reimbursement for this, which is considered an out-of-pocket expense. The only caveat to this situation is if you are related to the driver of the vehicle in which you are the passenger. In this case, you are part of the insured. For example, if you are in the car with your husband and you are involved in an accident, your insurance company covers you automatically as part of the insurance policy you are already on.
What if the Driver is a Friend?
Here’s where people tend to ignore the fact that they are able to seek damages after an accident as a passenger. Yes, you might be in the car with a friend when the accident occurs, and you might not want to ruin a friendship over a claim. However, you are not suing your friend if this happens. You are seeking damages from the insurance company your friend pays to handle situations just like this one.
Were You a Passenger in a Car Accident in New York State? Call Tom Today.
As a passenger in a car accident, you have every right to seek damages and compensation for your injuries and the long term impacts of your injuries. You are eligible for full damages and compensation. You don’t have to be the driver to seek damages. Call Attorney Tom Schimmerling as soon as possible to discuss your case. Our team of legal experts is here to ensure you know what to do, how the case may proceed, and what your rights are in any situation that involves a car accident. No two accidents are the same, which means legal help is the best and most effective way to insure you are properly compensated.