Accidents happen, and while you cannot necessarily prevent them, you can prepare for them. Even if you are not the actual driver of a vehicle involved in an accident, you do have rights if you are injured as a passenger. From compensation for medical bills to ensuring the liable party is held responsible, you should be eligible to file claims for your physical, emotional, and financial strain. Here are a few steps you should take as a passenger injured in an accident.
Receive Medical Help
Before you can address the actual accident, you need to address your injuries and emotional wellness. In severe accidents, witnesses and other parties involved will most likely have called 911.
Even if you feel fine after the accident, you should still be evaluated by medical professionals. Many injuries, such as internal bleeding, may not show immediate signs. Also, whiplash is a common injury of the neck that may not display symptoms for days, weeks, or even months after the accident.
Keep all medical documents on hand after you have been evaluated, since these records will be required by your attorney when filing a claim or lawsuit.
It is also important to gather all the information you can after the accident. This may require taking photos and talking to witnesses and emergency personnel, such as police officers and paramedics.
Ask for a copy of the accident report, which will most likely be provided to you and the driver of the vehicle you were riding with by the police. You should also ask for proof of medical care provided by the paramedics at the scene of the accident.
If you were transported to the hospital, make sure to collect medical records from the doctors in the emergency department as soon as you are able to.
Consider taking photos of the accident scene, including any and all vehicles involved. If there are witnesses, ask for their names and contact information, too, since their account of the accident may be useful if determining liability becomes difficult.
Finally, make sure to collect insurance information from the driver that you were riding with and any other drivers involved in the accident. The insurance company you file a claim with will depend on who caused the accident.
If the vehicle you were a passenger in was rear-ended, the driver of the vehicle who caused the accident would be the liable party. You would file your claim against that driver's policy.
In some instances, an accident may occur where drivers of both vehicles were at fault. Or, the police department might be unable to determine who is actually at fault. In these situations, you would need to file claims with both drivers' insurance policies.
Of course, gathering this information can be difficult if you are struggling both physically and emotionally because of the accident. Therefore, be sure to consult an auto accident attorney who can help you through this process.
Consult an Attorney
If you are not injured and have not sustained any emotional or financial distress because of the accident, you may not need legal assistance. There are situations where you will receive sufficient compensation or a settlement from the liable party's insurance company. If you feel the compensation is suitable, you do not need to progress the case any further.
Unfortunately, there are times where the drivers and their insurance companies will disagree and decline to offer you compensation. Or, an insurance company may offer you a settlement that is not worthwhile.
To pursue the insurance company and fight for compensation or to negotiate a higher, more deserved settlement, consult an attorney.